Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 | 3:15 p.m.
Festive floats and marchers made their way down Fourth Street in downtown Las Vegas on Monday for the city’s 29th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade.
With the occasional Vuvuzela piercing through the record-high warm air, thousands of Las Vegans and a handful of tourists cheered, boogied and smiled as the 150-entry procession – made up of floats, marching bands, dancers and motorcades – marched proudly to Ogden Street.
“This day celebrates the fact that the grandchildren that Dr. King spoke about during the civil rights movement are able to live out his legacy,” said Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Barlow.
The parade capped off a week of events honoring King, including a youth talent show, interfaith service and an annual banquet. Since 2008, the parade has been held on Monday, the day of observance for the federal holiday, instead of Saturday.
Southwest valley resident Dean Childs has attended the parade most years since it started in 1982. The 64-year-old, who was sporting a white MLK Day shirt, used to travel on occasion to Los Angeles to watch that city’s parade on Mondays, but now says he celebrates the holiday at home.
“Dr. King meant a lot to everyone not just in this country, but all over the world,” he said. “His message to stand up for your rights resonates with me.”
Childs carried a lawn chair as he waited for relatives to watch the parade. Growing up during the civil rights era, he said he plans to pass down King’s message of peace to his six grandchildren.
“I’ve had discussions with them about how we had to overcome a lot of social injustices,” Childs said. “A lot of people see this as an African-American movement, but this is about social equality for everyone. (His message) extends across all levels of society.”
That’s the same reason Mark White, 45, brought his 11-year-old son, Maxwell, to the parade.
“We came to be inspired by his words, dreams and achievements for mankind,” said Mark White, of North Las Vegas. “I’m so happy to see so many people out here today embracing each other.”
Jeannette Walton of North Las Vegas wore a T-shirt depicting Barack Obama at the parade. The 41-year-old said she saw many similarities between the first black president and the famous civil rights leader.
“It’s almost like (Obama) has the same dream … freedom, rights and more jobs for blacks,” she said. “It’s a privilege to come to the parade, to know the dream is still going.”
Walton’s friend, Larry Pounds, who also donned a similar Obama T-shirt, said he agreed.
“We may not be where we want to be, but it makes you feel better to see so many people still have the dream,” he said.