By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has messed up plans to some degree, organizers of Atmore’s annual parade and tribute to Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. said the memorial event will not be a casualty to the virus.
Sandra Gray, vice president of Concerned Citizens of Atmore, said last week this year’s celebration would be a scaled-down version of the annual salute to King and his effort on behalf of racial equality.
“We’re getting there,” Gray said of putting the federal holiday’s focal point — a parade through the northern section of downtown Atmore — together. “We have several entries for the parade, and we will be taking applications for more entries all this weekend, Friday, January 15 through Sunday, January 17. I think we’ll have a pretty good parade.”
Those who might want to enter a float, vehicle or marching group in the parade will have a chance to do so this weekend at Unity House on North Main Street. Applications will be accepted from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday and from 3 p.m. “until” on Sunday.
“Each applicant has to bring proof of insurance on any vehicle that might be entered,” Gray said. “They also have to provide the name of the driver, who has to be 21 or older, and a copy of that person’s driver’s license. A $10 entry fee will be charged for each entrant, with a $20 fee for floats. This year’s theme is ‘Truth, Love, Justice and Peace.’”
Entries in the parade caravan will begin lining up at Houston Avery Park around 8:30 a.m. Monday, January 18. The parade will roll at 10 a.m. The route will be the same as last year, covering MLK Drive, Ashley, Main and Liberty streets. From Liberty, the parade will continue back to MLK, then to Emmanuel Faith Center, 701 East Ridgeley.
Sharing grand marshal honors will be Judge Karean Reynolds (the first black to oversee Atmore Municipal Court proceedings), first-term District 3 City Councilwoman Eunice Johnson (the first black female to sit on the council), first-term District 4 City Councilman Shawn Lassiter, the council’s Mayor Pro Tem and District 5 BOE member Loumeek White.
All candy tossed from parade entrants must be in a plastic bag (no loose candy), and CCA members will be giving away knit caps and gloves.
Free bag lunches will be served at the church after the parade, and each grand marshal is expected to speak briefly. The Expose dance team will perform during the parade, and Emmanuel Faith Center’s Praise Team will perform outside the church following the parade.
The MLK Breakfast usually held in conjunction with the weekend celebration has been canceled.
“With COVID and social distancing, we couldn’t find a place with enough room for our breakfast,” Gray said. “Things will be a little different this year, but it will still be a great day of service.”
Face masks must be worn by parade participants, and social distancing is required. Police and other security will be scattered along the parade route.