Parade Brightens Day; Lively Crowd Turns out for Martin Luther King Jr. Event

Article excerpt

Byline: RACHEL DAVIS, The Times-Union

How did folks along the downtown Jacksonville parade route celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

They stretched by the thousands along damp city streets, curled up in blankets and hovered under umbrellas and the eave of the Bank of America building.

They sat on sidewalks and park benches waiting for traffic to stop and the parade to begin. They molded balloons into flowers and puppy dogs and swords. They sold hot dogs and waved flags, set up lawn chairs and watched as the parade escort lights slowly crept up the street.

They clapped as high school ROTC programs and martial arts schools marched through the streets, dazzling their audience with nunchucks and staffs. They could barely make out Miss Edward Waters College's hand through the back window of a covered convertible, shielding its princess from the rain.

They advertised radio stations, day-care centers and dance schools from dressed up trucks and trailer beds. They waved as myriad princes and kings rolled past.

The Robert E. Lee High School marching band strutted, and First Coast High School rocked and rattled with the beat of the bass. Boy Scout troops waved at parents and strangers along the route, keeping pace with the rest of the parade.

They scattered in the street for candy and yelled for free T-shirts. They handed out campaign fliers and "Vote Dean" stickers. The "Foxy N Furious" wore blue camouflage and revved up their motorcycle engines, wowing the crowd as they spun back tires and splashed water puddles. …