This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade was on time and perfect.
Unlike last year’s delay due to heavy rains, the 2024 celebration lived up to expectations on the federal holiday of Monday, Jan. 15. Hundreds of happy people from across our community, including numerous notable dignitaries and community leaders, attended the event.
As usual, everyone gathered at the Amtrak Station on 24th Street early in the morning. While it was a bit cold and foggy, those who assembled were enthusiastic. While prepping for the parade, a list of dignitaries and community members took time to speak to the crowd and talk about the importance of Martin Luther King Jr., his dream of equal rights and justice for all, as well as how far we have come as a society. The speakers included U.S. Congressman John Duarte, State Senator Anna Caballero, and Merced Mayor Serratto, among many others.
Then they all marched down Martin Luther King Jr. Way while crowds of onlookers gathered along the route to see the procession — filled with people of all ages, many carrying signs of hope and love.
Once everyone made their way to the Merced Theatre on Main Street, members of the MLK Jr. Committee urged people to come inside and enjoy a community celebration with a number of speeches, presentations, and performances of dance and song. There were also complimentary snacks and goodies. Smiles were all around.
At the end of the theatre program, a number of awards were given out by the MLK Jr. Committee to standout community members.
- Spirit Award: Necola Adams, president of the Merced County Nut Festival.
- Community Service Award: Gloria Morris, Lavelle Winzer, Mildred Stubbs and Walter Smith.
- Legacy Awards: The Atwater-Merced Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Merced NAACP Branch 1047, Saint Matthew Baptist Church, and United Methodist Church.
- Living The Dream Award: Lailah Brooks, Tyla Wiliams, Tynique Williams.