Parade to again bring Martin Luther King spirit to Las Vegas

Even though it has seen changes over its 32 years, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade on Monday retains its original spirit and commitment to honor the civil rights leader’s legacy.

“This is a party and a celebration,” parade Chairman Wendell Williams said. “This is Martin Luther King’s birthday so it’s about having a good time and celebrating.”

The parade will begin at 10 a.m. starting on Fourth Street and Hoover Avenue.

Williams said there will be about 100 entries. “But the number of entries doesn’t indicate how huge the event will be,” he said. “It’s always a huge turnout.”

The parade comes between two historic occasions — the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in 1963 and the anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed forms of discrimination.

“In my opinion, I think one of the reasons we have a huge interest this year is because of the anniversary of the March on Washington,” Williams said. “I think people are responding to that spirit.”

The parade features four grand marshals including Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow; welfare rights activist Ruby Duncan; Ida Gaines, a regional representative from U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s office; and Willie Cherry, the senior pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.

“When I first started, I remember just telling someone to be the grand marshal,” Williams said. “Now, I have people petitioning others for it. It is too hard to narrow it down to just two or three. All of (the marshals) have strong commitments to the community. ”

He added it’s especially nice to have Barlow, who once marched in the parade as an elementary school student, as a marshal.

The parade will also be aired on Cox Communications cable channel 96.

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