Sun shines on delayed MLK Day parade

Published 12:11 am Sunday, January 23, 2011

NATCHEZ — While rain postponed the annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade Monday, the weather was perfect Saturday afternoon for residents who waited all week to fill the streets of downtown Natchez to honor King.

“I am kind of glad we had to wait a couple extra days for the parade,” Natchez resident Greg Blendon said. “It made me think about King all week instead of on just one day. For all the work he did, one day doesn’t seem enough.”

Blendon, along with residents from across the Miss-Lou gathered along the parade route — Franklin Street to Minor Street — to watch the parade.

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“It’s just a good fun thing for the family to do,” Blendon said. “My kids have been asking me all week when we could come out to the parade.”

Blendon and his two sons George and James stood on Franklin Street as Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton and a number of other city officials drove through the city tossing candy to the children.

“I didn’t know there was going to be candy!” George said. “I wish there was a parade every weekend.”

City police, firefighters and area school marching bands paraded through the town, while area churches had floats made in King’s honor.

Baton Rouge resident Barry Herth was in town shopping and said it was a pleasant surprise to stumble upon a parade.

“I had no idea there was going to be a parade today,” he said. “It was nice to come into a smaller city and see so many people gathered together in respect of one man.”

Herth said he wished he would have brought his family with him to see the parade Saturday afternoon.

“My kids are just now getting to the age where they can understand the importance of Martin Luther King’s work,” he said. “I’m glad cities like Natchez have parades like this. It shows the younger generations that this man did something worth remembering.”

As the parade came to an end, Vidalia resident Kristina Johnson started the walk back to her car and said she was glad she came out to watch the parade.

“It just puts so many things in perspective if you stop and think about what all King did,” she said. “To live in the times he did, and to peacefully protest with all the threats he received. It makes you think about what you would have done in his shoes.”

Johnson said she hopes Natchez will continue the parade for future generations to enjoy.

“This is something that needs to always be remembered,” she said. “There are few people in history who made as much change as King.”