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MLK parade new tradition in Kingstown

Three years ago last December, Christmas parade organizers in the Cleveland County community of Kingstown faced a difficult situation. The weather forecast for the scheduled day of their parade called for a 100 percent chance of rain. So they decided to cancel the event.
But then, inspiration struck: "We decided that instead of canceling the parade, we would reschedule it for Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend," says Ramona Gash, one of the parade organizers. The group contacted all of the entries scheduled to appear in the Christmas parade, and a new tradition was born.
"We realized that while a lot of towns in the county were having Christmas parades, no one was having a Martin Luther King, Jr., parade," she says. "Since our community is named in honor of Dr. King, we thought that it would be fitting for us to do a parade for MLK day."
And for the past three years, that's just what they have done. This year's parade is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, at 2 p.m. The parade will begin at the Kingstown Central Park and end at Palmer Grove Baptist Church. The West Mecklenburg High School Marching Band from Charlotte performed in the parade last year, and is scheduled to appear again at this year's event.
Following the parade, a program titled "The Dream and the Keeper of the Dream as Young People," will be held at the Palmer Grove Baptist Church family life center.
"We really want to reach out to the youth of our community and help share with them about who Martin Luther King, Jr. was and to help them to pursue his dream," says Gash. More than two hundred people turned out for last year's program.
A free spaghetti supper follows the program, which will feature Les Howard, pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Waco, NC, who will speak about the program's theme. A recitation of the "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., will also be part of the afternoon's activities.
Anyone wishing to submit an entry for the parade should contact Margaret Vinson at 704-484-8609, Ramona Gash at 704-297- 5040, or Janet Gerald at 704-300-6568. The cost is $10 for one entry or $20 for two or more parade entries. Line up for the parade will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Kingstown Central Park.
"We hope the community will come out in a spirit of love, unity, peace and hope to support this event and to help us keep Dr. King's dream alive," says Gash.

By April Shauf

Special to Shelby Shopper


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