Thousands celebrate Martin Luther King in Cascades Park
By Danyelle Johnson
All of the elements were in place for a rejuvenating celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday in Cascades Park.
Several bands and singers performed to the amusement of a crowd of about 3,000 that showed up for the event billed as MLK Dare to Dream Festival.
Food venders had plenty of dishes to choose from. Children had face painting and bounce houses.
A cross-section of the community took it all in. It was like living a line in King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, said Joe Bullard, a popular radio personality.
“The dream can live on and now we can finally say that a part of his speech Black and White have come together,” said Bullard, program director of 96.1 FM and voice of the Marching 100. “Today is a perfect example that we’ve come together as an entire community. All organizations are coming together so nobody is separate. We are one.”
In addition to bands, singing, and theatrical performances, there were group discussions on “enhancing connections to create a more cohesive community.”
The theme for this year’s festival was “Celebrating Service, Empowered for change.” The festival allowed the community to celebrate Dr. King’s dream and also fellowship while honoring his life and legacy.
“Today is really about coming together as a community for African Americans, Whites and everyone to really fulfill Dr. King’s legacy and dream that he and so many other freedom fighters fought for to address issues that are still prevalent in our community today,” State Representative Alan Williams said.
Kimberly Menchion, president of the Martin Luther King Dare to Dream Association, has seen the event grow larger each year.
“I feel great,” she said. “Just to see so many come out smiling and enjoying themselves is the reason why we organized this event. We have to honor history.
“We come from people who were enslaved and going through civil rights and Dr. King helped us get to this point and you have to remember the past as you go forward.
“We also have this event because we don’t want people to focus on the past. What are you going to do now and in the future is the focus. This event can inspire someone and something positive, then it’s all worth it.”