MLK parade in downtown Las Vegas to promote ‘bridge to unity’

Scores of Las Vegas Valley residents are expected to take in the sights and sounds of the 36th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade on Monday.

The downtown Las Vegas parade, themed “Living the Dream: Building a Bridge to Unity,” starts at 10 a.m. at Fourth Street and Gass Avenue and continues to its terminus on Ogden Avenue.

“As we all strive for a better world, the King parade is an excellent way to demonstrate our unified commitment to peace and brotherhood,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee founder Wendell P. Williams said.

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Claytee White, director of the Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries and active member of the local African-American community, said she hopes the parade will continue to unite different communities and age groups.

The longtime Las Vegas resident said she has watched the celebration evolve over the past three decades from a small parade into a week of public service and education in King’s honor.

“No matter where you are in life, there’s something in this week of celebration that you can learn from and engage in, because most have forgotten about the fight to make MLK a national holiday and how difficult that fight was,” she said. “Most just think of it as a holiday that gives us a three-day weekend, and that’s all they know. But it’s important to remember that MLK was a fierce civil rights leader.”

For the eighth consecutive year, MGM Resorts International is presenting sponsor of the parade, which will feature floats, dancers, marching bands and exotic vehicles.

In a switch from prior years, younger community leaders — Tya Mathis-Coleman, a Clark County School District recruiter focused on diversity, and Pastor Kelsey West — will serve as this year’s parade grand marshals. Past grand marshals have been longtime local leaders.

“I think the King committee has done an amazing job strategically putting this celebration together so that if you really want to learn this history, you can,” White said. “And something new this year is that they have chosen grand marshals who are younger. These are people who have done all kinds of services in the African-American community and cross all boundaries.

“If there is going to be unity, this is a wonderful way to start.”

Road closures

A mile-long stretch of Fourth Street in downtown Las Vegas will close for nine hours Monday to make way for the parade.

Fourth Street will be closed between Charleston Boulevard and Stewart Avenue from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., Las Vegas city officials said. All cross streets within a half-block of the parade route also will close, and vehicles won’t be allowed to cross Fourth Street.

The downtown street closures have prompted detours for 11 Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada bus lines.

Affected lines are Route 109, Route 113, Route 207, Route 208, Route 215, the Boulder Highway Express, the Centennial Express, Deuce on the Strip, the Downtown & Veterans Medical Center Express, the Henderson & Downtown Express and the Westcliff Airport Express.

With Monday a federal holiday, all bus lines will operate on a Saturday schedule, commission spokesman Brad Seidel said.

For more parade information, visit www.kingweeklasvegas.com. Visit rtcsnv.com for more information on bus detours.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Art Marroquin contributed to this story.

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