Winter Garden MLK event to celebrate King’s life

The city of Winter Garden is planning a celebration with a parade, speeches, displays, music and more at the downtown pavilion.

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Residents are invited to a community celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work to create unity and equality. The remembrance event takes place Monday, Jan. 17, in downtown Winter Garden and begins at 10 a.m. with a Celebration Parade along Plant Street.

The free celebration continues at the downtown pavilion, 104 S. Lakeview Ave., and will feature speeches from the community, including those by Dr. King; as well as displays, family-friendly activities, food vendors and daylong live stage performances.

At 11 a.m., Winter Garden Mayor John Rees will address the crowd. At 12:15 p.m., Anthony Hodge, minister and founder of Finding the Lost Sheep Ministry in east Winter Garden, will present King’s speech.


In addition, to further celebrate Dr. King’s legacy, Garden Theatre will host a live production of “The Mountaintop” that depicts an imagining of Dr. King’s last night on Earth.
The play will run from Jan. 21 through Feb. 6. One performance including an American Sign Language interpreter will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3.

In “The Mountaintop,” King is in his Memphis motel room after delivering his iconic “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech when a maid brings him a newspaper, some coffee and news that he won’t live past tomorrow.

Her revelation spurs an all-night conversation that illuminates the humanity behind the Civil Rights icon as King reflects on the man he is and the man he hoped to be. Written in honor of the individuals who King inspired but never met, Katori Hall’s Olivier Award-winning play is a stunning imagining of King’s last night on Earth.

Essex O’Brien portrays King, and Anita Whitney Bennett is cast as Camae. The understudies are Matthew Zenon and Lauren Muller, respectively.

To purchase tickets, visit



The city of Ocoee has canceled its annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Parade and Celebration because of COVID-19 concerns.

The city posted a comment on its website: “The city of Ocoee is committed to embracing Dr. King’s ideals of peace, justice and equality for all.”

Previous MLK celebrations in Ocoee are streaming online at The events, from 2017 to 2020, also can be viewed on Ocoee TV Spectrum 493: at 9 and 10 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13; 9 and 10:45 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14; 2:45 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15; 2:45, 4:45, 9 and 10 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16; 2:45, 5, 9 and 10:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17; and 9 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, Jan.18.

In addition, a special photo montage, “A Look Back Through the Years,” highlights the city’s past MLK Day celebrations, including the city’s first parade, held 15 years ago. This is posted on Ocoee TV’s YouTube channel.



The town of Oakland issued a proclamation at its Jan. 11 meeting in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

It pays tribute to the town’s “richness of diversity in its population, embracing many ethnic and racial groups as a part of both the town’s history and its future”; honors King’s message of peace and service; recognizes “service to others is a bond that unites us as citizens and helps us to define an achievable vision by working for the common good”; and urges residents to find ways to “show service and respect to others, such as collecting food for those in need, planting a tree, volunteering at the school, or delivering and serving meals to folks in need.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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