West Orange plans MLK celebrations

Winter Garden, Oakland and Ocoee are holding festivals, parades and activities to honor the civil rights leader.

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Three West Orange County municipalities are holding celebrations in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. in the next four days. The federal holiday honoring King, who was born Jan. 15, 1929, is on the third Monday in January.



The 8th Annual Unity Celebration, sponsored by the city of Winter Garden and Orange County Parks and Recreation, is Saturday, Jan. 16, at the West Orange Recreation Center, 309 S. West Crown Point Road, Winter Garden. The community march is at 12:30 p.m., and the event is from 1 to 4 p.m. The march will travel from Third and East Bay streets to the rec center. To participate in the march, contact the city of Winter Garden at (407) 656-4111 or wintergarden-fl.gov. The entry fee is a monetary or canned-good donation to the Kid’s Café program.

The celebration includes live entertainment, vendors and children’s activities.



The MLK celebration is from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, at the Oakland Meeting Hall, 221 N. Arrington St. The fifth-graders from Oakland Avenue Charter School submitted essays on Dr. King, and the winning essays will be read at the event. There will also be someone reading King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, plus King’s speeches on audio. Cake and punch will be served.



The 10th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Unity Parade and Celebration is at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18. The parade, featuring marching bands, floats and dancers, is presented by the city of Ocoee’s Human Relations Diversity Board. It begins at Citrus Elementary School, 87 N. Clarke Road, and ends at the parking lot of the West Oaks Mall on Clarke Road.

To download a parade registration form, go to ocoee.org, or visit Ocoee City Hall to pick up a form. For more information, call (407) 905-3100.

Orlando civil rights pioneer the Rev. Canon Nelson Pinder will be the keynote speaker for the post-parade celebration from 11 a.m to noon in the mall parking area. 

Pinder was born in 1932 in Miami. After serving in the Army in the Korean War, he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Bethune-Cookman College and a master’s degree in education from Florida A&M University. He later attended Nashotah House Seminary in Wisconsin, and, in 1959, he began his service as the first black full-time priest at The Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist.

During the 1960s, he became known as the “Street Priest,” organizing and participating in sit-ins and protests that helped to advance civil rights in the city of Orlando.


Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].


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