by James Coulter
Haines City concluded its weeklong celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with its annual parade on Sat., Jan. 21. More than 55 units from marching bands and dance troupes to fire and rescue vehicles and decorated vehicles made their way through Downtown Haines City.
The parade started at Main Street near the Haines City Public Library and City Hall, made its way through downtown, and ended at 7th Street near Myers and Wiley Field where the Unity Day festival was hosted.
“The parade has been successful because we understand the importance of honoring the rich legacy of Dr. King,” said Sameka with the Haines City Northeast Revitalization Group. “The marches through the streets were a way to show solidarity against the injustices towards blacks having equal rights. As we continue to parade decades later, it is a way to keep his dream alive.
The parade capped off a week-long celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King and his legacy. The week of events started on Sunday with Praise in the Park, where local pastors gathered to pray over the city.
Other events included a literacy event on Tuesday evening at the library and a scholarship brunch on Thursday where two local high school seniors were conferred scholarships.
Sameka appreciated how the weeklong celebration allow the local community to commemorate the life of a great civil rights leader. An old classmate even traveled from Ohio and Tallahassee to attend the parade, she said.
“This is also one day in the year where a family can enjoy themselves,” she said. “In addition to the parade, I enjoy the keynote speakers and honoring the Grand Marshall. Both the keynote speaker and Grand Marshall embodies the meaning of keeping the dream alive. Performers, vendors and spectators travel from Orlando and other surrounding cities. They provide food and entertainment to help make the cultural experience great.”