By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
The COVID-19 pandemic was all but forgotten for about an hour Monday, January 18, as hundreds of Atmore residents, hardly any wearing face coverings, lined stretches of four city streets for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade.
About 40 entries — including classic cars, trucks, SUVs and motorcycles, most decorated with photos of King or signs honoring him — took part in the holiday caravan. Most participants, though not all, did wear masks or other face coverings as they tossed candy, moon pies, even packets of Ramen noodle soup as they moved slowly through the city’s northeastern side.
While most parade participants rode this year, there were a handful who marched in emulation of the non-violent protests led by King, who was felled by an assassin’s bullet in 1968, during the turbulent 1960s.
The parade was led by co-Grand Marshals Eunice Johnson and Shawn Lassiter, who followed two city police cars and two city fire engines.
Initial plans had called for four people to share the honors with Johnson, the first black female to sit on the Atmore City Council, and Lassiter, the council’s Mayor Pro Tem. But county school board member Loumeek White and Karean Reynolds, who recently became the first black to mete out justice in Atmore Municipal Court, were unable to attend.
Reynolds, a National Guardsman, was unable to participate because his unit was activated and sent to Washington, D.C. for Thursday’s inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden. No reason was given for White’s absence.
Kids of all ages scrambled for the goodies tossed as the parade moved down the street named for King, then along Ashley, Main and Liberty streets before returning to MLK Avenue and ending at Emmanuel Faith Center on East Ridgeley Street.
Food was provided at the church, and a brief program was held in the churchyard. Emmanuel Faith Center’s praise team performed, and the grand marshals and others delivered brief addresses.