A diverse crowd gathered downtown on a bright but cold Monday to take in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade organized by the MLK Jr. Celebration Committee of Southeastern North Carolina.
Spectators were treated to a procession that included local and state politicians, area non-profits and churches, civil rights and mentorship groups, alumni associations from some of North Carolina’s historically black colleges and universities and local businesses. Representatives from several elementary and middle schools marched, and the Wilmington Eagles, the local youth football team that represented the Port City at the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Orlando, Fl. last month, rode in the parade on a long flatbed truck with their cheerleaders.
The legacies of some prominent African Americans were also honored in Monday’s parade, including local Vietnam War veterans. Lieutenant Mary Catherine Green, who was the first black female to earn that rank in the Wilmington Police Department, was remembered with a riderless horse, a tribute used by law enforcement to remember those that have passed away. Lt. Green, who according to the parade’s emcee “was everybody’s mama,” died in February 2015.
Entertainment was provided by bands from New Hanover County high schools as well as several step and dance teams, who stopped in front of crowds near City Hall to perform routines set to live drumbeats or recorded music. The Snipes Academy Dribbling All-Stars, who bounced basketballs in time to popular songs, were a fan favorite.
“I liked the way they dribbled the basketballs to the music,” said a young parade-goer named Alex. “It was really cool.”
Four-year old Josiah, who was at the parade with his grandfather and other family members, also enjoyed the event.
“I saw a lot of cool things,” he said. “It was lot fun.”