Merced County Times Newspaper
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Details emerge for big MLK Day

Devonyo Bills will be the guest speaker.
Devonyo Bills will be the guest speaker.

Committee members for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Merced are planning for multiple activities that will culminate on Jan. 17 with the 25th annual Peace & Unity March.

  • On Jan. 15, a Kids Day will be held at the Merced County Boys and Girls Club at 615 W. 15th Street in Merced. Vaccinations will be available for children. The first 100 vaccinated youngsters will receive autographed books and photos with TV show personality Karyn Parsons who is best known for her role as Will Smith’s ditsy cousin Hilary Banks on NBC’s The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. After leaving acting behind, Parsons went on to produce Sweet Blackberry, an award-winning series of children’s animated films, to share stories about unsung black history, featuring narration from stars such as Alfre Woodard, Queen Latifah, Chris Rock and Laurence Fishburne. Parsons debut novel is titled “How High The Moon.”
  • Also on Jan. 15, an MLK Jr. community celebration and car show will take place all day long at McNamara Park. There will be a DJ and live music, a 50/50 raffle, and guest speakers. The vehicle competition will be hosted by the Chicanas Car Club and Lay M Law.
  • On MLK Jr. Day, Jan. 17, the Peace & Unity March will convene near the main entrance of the Merced County Fairgrounds on MLK Jr. Way in Merced at 10 a.m. The march will step off at 11 a.m., and will continue north up MLK Jr. Way to the historic Merced Theatre. School bands will be in the unity march, along with several community groups and organizations.

An inspiration celebration, including special guest speaker, Devonyo Bills, will be held inside the Merced Theatre from noon to 2 p.m. The theme this year is: ‘What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?’

Bills is from Oakland, where he currently resides, and works as a Laboratory Analyst 2 in Silicon Valley. He graduated from UC Merced with a degree in Earth System Sciences; where he contributed numerous hours of community service in youth outreach.

During his college tenure, he was also president of the Black Student Union and participated in multiple social initiatives. His science background allowed him to participate in international water research on behalf of the university as well.

To help put on this year’s events, the MLK Committee is holding a New Year’s Eve Game Day fundraiser on Dec. 31, from noon to 4 p.m., at Vault Works, 1666 N St., in Downtown Merced. 

The event will feature Bingo, Dominoes, a 50/50 raffle, Scattergories, Let’s Go Fishing, Yahtzee, LCR, prizes and more! For a $25 donation, you will receive party favors, hors d’oeuvres, fun, and entrance into games and raffles to win prizes and gift cards. You must be 12 years old to play the featured games.  

Food will be catered by Auntie’s (658-4143), and there will be pre-paid to go plates of New Year’s Soul Food. $20 per plate, includes black-eyed peas, greens, cornbread, pork or chicken, yams and a dessert selection. An 8 oz container of chitterlings will go for $15 while supplies last. 

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