A bright and blustery dawn in Freeport, with a chill in the air despite the sunshine, didn’t deter residents in jackets, coats and even a few wintry bobble hats from lining roadsides Monday for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee Parade.

“My ears are cold, but I think it’s perfect weather for a parade,” Diana Lopez said with a laugh.

She and her family came out to see son Alejandro “Alex” Lopez, who was marching with the JROTC. They were joined by friend Sheila Newton, whose son John is also in the JROTC. Newton said it was a pleasure to come out and support their children on such an important day.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing man,” Newton said. “And we’re proud of our kids. We’re glad that they can honor Dr. King by marching in this parade.”

That mix of embracing family and honoring King’s legacy seemed to be a common theme at the parade and the festival that followed. Annie Lunford, her three sisters, her brother and some cousins all joined the parade as a motorcycle unit.

“Me and all my sisters decided to buy us a Can-Am. We just ride together now, we ride with my brother,” she said. “My big brother, he leads us, so we’re called Shaw Girls because his name is Shaw and our dad was named Shaw.”

The parade was wonderful and they saw a lot of enthusiasm as they threw candy to the crowd, Lunford said. Maybe it was high spirits or maybe people were hungry, but either way they had a good time waiting at the end of the parade route. As celebrants strolled into Freeport Municipal Park, they were greeted with lively song and dance performances and the aroma of barbecue, fried chicken and sweet cakes.

“We have turkey vendors, pork chop vendors, fried fish. One of my friends made 1,200 tea cakes,” said Theresa Jackson, one of the MLKCC founders, who praised the variety of vendors at the festival. “You know what else I enjoyed seeing? The multiculturalism of people from every walk of life waving and wearing Martin Luther King T-shirts.”

God smiled on the event, she said, providing beautiful weather and happy people for the festival. She also praised the volunteers who helped prepare for the day, businesses and organizations that made floats, the Freeport Police Department that assured everyone’s safety and the hardworking committee members who organized events.

“They do all the talking, I do all the work,” joked Parade Chairman Will Brooks when Jackson tried to put him in the spotlight. “(We had) a lot of great volunteers, a lot of enthusiasm, and we always appreciate that.”

MLKCC President Dorothy Thomas said she was pleased with how things turned out. She saw strong community involvement and enjoyment.

“We could not have asked for more perfect weather. The participation is great for the community coming out,” she said. “We had a good time coming together and fellowshipping together.”

The theme of the celebration this year was “The Fierce Urgency of Now,” and the MLKCC has two more upcoming events. The group will host a Youth Explosion for ages 13 to 18 to join a discussion of suicide prevention at Brazosport High School, and winners of the MLKCC poster and essay contest will be announced Feb. 20 at Brazosport College.

Mary Newport is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0149.

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