Charleston will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation with the annual parade through downtown today.

The event begins at 11 a.m. at Burke High School, 244 President St., and ends at Emanuel AME Church at 110 Calhoun St.

Ethel Greene, of the Charleston Emancipation Proclamation Association, said the significance of this year’s event is the passage-of-time milestone.

“The 150 years is important itself for the freeing of the slaves,” she said.

During the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation was President Abraham Lincoln’s final document declaring that all the slaves in the states in rebellion against the Union were “forever free.”

The proclamation realistically couldn’t be enforced in Southern areas still controlled by Confederate powers, but the statement was Lincoln’s way of defining that the North was fighting to make the Union whole again minus any form of slavery.

Greene said she expects about 100 entries to be part of the parade, which should take between one hour and 90 minutes to complete.

The procession will begin on the Fishburne Street side of Burke before traveling east to Ashley Avenue. From there the route will go north to Sumter Street, east to King Street, and then south to Calhoun Street to Emanuel AME Church.

Church services will follow at Morris Brown AME Church, Greene said.

Charleston Police special unit Lt. Jason Emanuele said cars parked along the parade route will not have to be moved during the procession.

Streets along the route will be closed in rolling order as the participants pass by, Emanuele said, and then opened again after the marchers go through.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.