The cities of Ocoee and Winter Garden are hosting community celebrations Monday, Jan. 15, in honor of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Both are planning parades as part of the festivities.
In Ocoee, the 16th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Parade and Celebration begins at 10 a.m. The parade kicks off at Citrus Elementary School, 87 N. Clarke Road, and ends at the parking lot of the West Oaks Mall further south on Clarke Road.
The public is invited to stay for the post-parade celebration that will take place in the mall food court at 11 a.m.
Bishop Derrick L. McRae, senior pastor of The Experience Christian Center, will be the keynote speaker after the parade. An Ocoee resident, McRae is a motivational speaker, talk show host, drummer, radio personality and choir director. The Experience Christian Center, under his leadership, has served more than 148,000 community members through various outreach efforts.
The celebration program will include the presentation of the colors by the Ocoee High School JROTC; Ocoee resident Sherrí Gladney will sing the national anthem, and Innovation Montessori Ocoee’s Show Choir will perform. In addition, sixth-grader Olivia Guinn, winner of last year’s City of Ocoee Black History Month Essay Contest, will recite her award-winning essay titled “Remembering the Victims of the Ocoee Massacre.”
“It’s important to recognize and honor what Dr. King stood for,” Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson said. “His message of peace and equality resonates in our community.”
For information, visit ocoee.org or call (407) 905-3100.
In Winter Garden, the fifth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration 2024 includes a parade, live concert and children’s activities.
The parade begins at 11 a.m. at Woodland Street in historic downtown and ends at Central Avenue. Festivities continue at the Downtown Pavilion, 104 S. Lakeview Ave. The free event runs until 4 p.m. and includes musical entertainment by Phoenix 5 and Selwyn Birchwood, children’s activities including a gaming truck and rock-climbing wall, and food and refreshments available for purchase from onsite vendors and downtown eateries.
A free shuttle service is available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for attendees parking at the corner of Ninth and East Plant streets.
The City of Winter Garden Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration continues to grow in both participation and attendance,” said Laura Coar, director of the city’s Parks & Recreation Department. “This year will feature the largest parade yet, an expanded kids’ zone providing numerous free children’s activities, and more than four hours of live entertainment. We look forward to this celebration continuing to grow as one of the city’s yearly signature events.”