Area students joined a handful of public officials and others for the annual parade and ceremony to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. near Keller Intermediate School in Macclenny on the cool and sunny morning of January 13.
The event has grown smaller in recent years, with fewer people taking part in the parade and program organized by Rev. Tommy Rollins of Macclenny.
The parade traveled through the center of the city, beginning and ending at Emmanuel Church of God at the northeast corner of South Boulevard and 8th Street.
Children and staff from nearby day care centers and preschools gathered at the roadside waving and clapping as the parade’s various groups marched, walked or rode by. Residents came out of their homes to watch the annual observance as well.
The roughly 45-minute procession was led by the flashing lights of law enforcement motorcycles from the Florida Highway Patrol and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
They were followed by the high school’s Air Force Junior Officer Training Corps [JROTC] cadets, who near the end of the route halted after approaching a crowd from the Episcopal Children Services’ Head Start program. The cadets turned and saluted the children before marching on.
The school district’s Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson and Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Robin Mobley soon rode by in a bright red Jeep Wrangler, preceded by a golf cart from the Baker County Women’s Political Network. Then came the high school band’s drum line, the middle school’s girls basketball, Dancin’ Paws and Marjorettes teams, and local fire and rescue units.
Parade participants convened afterwards on the church grounds for boxed chicken lunches and sodas. They sat at picnic tables under the shade of canopies laid out before a stage and podium where speakers, one after the other, reflected on the life and values of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“It’s a great day to honor a great man,” said Ms. Raulerson, who later talked about a teacher who inspired her to seek a career in education. She was black woman named Clemetee Daniels.
“She had such an impact on my life,” said Ms. Raulerson, noting that Ms. Daniels had to travel to Lake City because she couldn’t graduate from high school here. Without the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., Ms. Raulerson said, Ms. Daniels may not have attended college to become a teacher and eventually influence her.
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