This year's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade in Meridian was already expected to be the largest ever, and it's now getting even bigger. Known to dazzle on the field, Jackson State University's nationally acclaimed band, the Sonic Boom of the South, will be the featured guest for this year's parade.
"It wasn't easy, but with the participation of our committee, some strong committed people, and money from the community, and the city we made it happen," says Greg Lane, who is the MLK Committee Chairman.
Costing more than $5,000 to bring to the Queen City, JSU's band was just secured this week. To help with expenses for the MLK activities, the city council is expected to approve $2,000. Parade organizers are calling that money well spent because they say it will be returned by people who come to Meridian to attend MLK activities.
"Right now we estimate just over 2,000 parade participants alone, and we want to let the public know that the city parking garage will be open for free parking," says Parade Coordinator, Bo Hawkins. "So, get there early, and get you a good spot, so that you can watch one of the best MLK parades that we've ever had."
Something else that will make this year's parade unique is the fact that for the first time it will follow a different route. It will begin in front of the Meridian Public School District's Central Office. The parade will then continue all the way down 25th Avenue to 5th Street, and over to 22nd Avenue. It will ultimately end in front of City Hall.
"We thought that that was very important because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the deaths of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney," says Hawkins. "As you know they did a lot of civil rights work in this 5th Street area in going back and forth to Philadelphia before being killed in 1964, and we just wanted to kind of bring the parade home to the people."
Monday's parade will start at noon.