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MLK Dream Big Parade returns to St. Petersburg

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Posted at 2:37 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 17:22:57-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — One of the largest and longest-running Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations is back. Monday, thousands of people gathered to watch the MLK Dream Big Parade in St. Petersburg.

The event is helping all of us to reflect on the importance of King’s work and accomplishments.

The booming celebration brought more than 100 groups to 1st Avenue South with spirit, energy and some dazzling dance moves.

It’s a tradition Curt McKay and his family holds dearly.

“We have been highly anticipating the parade. We come here pretty much every year,” he said with excitement.

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Except for last year, when COVID-19 forced the celebration to be held virtually.

“I’ve been in the house for almost two years. This was us taking a break and saying we’re going to give it a shot. We looked at the news and saw that cases were dropping so we feel a little safer,” McKay added.

This year marks the 59th anniversary of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

“It’s incredible seeing everybody coming together and enjoying what he’s done for us to be here and be free,” said Torona Gathright.

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As masks and social distancing take precedent, and in a time when we’ve had to stay apart to stay safe, parade attendees say King’s message couldn’t be more relevant.

“Be together, stay together, do the right thing,” Charles Williams says is what MLK taught him.

“Everything he did for us. Freedom and justice and liberty,” added Matt Jason Jewell Jr.

King would have turned 93 this past weekend, but his legacy will live on for centuries in the Tampa Bay families who are showing their children to always be brave enough to fight for what’s right.

“It was taught to me as a kid and I want to teach it to my son and hopefully he can pass it down to his kids,” Gathright said.

This was the 36th year of the MLK Dream Big Parade. Ten high school and college bands traveled from outside of Tampa Bay took part in the festivities.

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Organizers stressed the importance of masks and social distancing as much as possible along the parade route.

Parade organizers hope to make next year’s festivities even bigger…with the hope that COVID-19 will be an issue we can all put behind us.