MLK Jr. parade winners
• 1st place: St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church
• 2nd place: Good Shepherd Baptist Church
• 3rd place: City of Riceboro
More than 80 entries that included nine floats, scores of VIP cars, police cruisers, fire trucks and military vehicles as well as marching soldiers, bands, church and civic groups took part in this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade Monday in downtown Hinesville.
“I took care of parade registration,” Hinesville Homeless Prevention Coordinator Daisy Jones said. “(Assistant City Manager) Kenny (Howard) and Pastor Earnest Williams took care of lining up the participants. They have refined how they do the check-in. It’s more orderly now, and that’s good because this is one of our largest parades ever.”
It was certainly one of the longest parades. The parade started at 10 a.m. near Bradwell Institute, moved down Gen. Screven Way, turning left onto Hendry Street, then left again onto Main Street. The parade still was going strong at 11:30 a.m.
Parade watchers began lining up at 9 a.m. on Main Street. Because it was so cold, most spectators soon found their way over to the sunny side of the street. Natasha Berry, 4, shivered in her stroller, which was parked near the only sunny spot near the bleachers. Her mom, Annie Berry, and other adults nursed hot cups of coffee as they waited for the procession to begin.
“It’s cold!” Natasha told her mother as she attempted to shield herself with a small pink blanket.
“Yes, I know,” Annie said as she helped her daughter cover her legs. “This is her first MLK Day parade. It’s not her first parade, though. She was at the Christmas parade.”
A Hinesville Police Department cruiser led the parade with its blue lights filling the shaded area as it moved up Main Street. Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, commander of 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, and Stewart-Hunter Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson led the 3rd ID color guard, which was followed by the 3rd ID band and troops with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Dispersed between marching bands and floats, local politicians waved at spectators from their car windows, including the mayors of Hinesville, Midway, Riceboro, Walthourville and Flemington; Hinesville City Council members; and Liberty County commissioners. State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, walked alongside or ahead of his designated vehicle, pausing to shake hands along the route and greet spectators.
When the sunny side of the street was packed, more attendees gathered on the cooler, shady side. Among them were 8-month-old Aniyahan Douglas, 18-month-old Isabella Baker and 4-year-old Tyler Barnes. Their moms, Garnet Douglas and Natasha Baker, were careful to cover their daughters’ legs with blankets and keep Tyler out of the street.
Many of the floats or groups marching held up large banners that reflected a theme for the group. Flemington’s sign read, “Our dream made into reality.” St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church had a float adorned with a large picture of King above a person sleeping in a bed with the words “One man’s dream” on one side of the float and “Another man’s reality” on the other side.
Jones noted the individual themes of parade participants reflected the theme of this year’s celebration of the life and legacy of King: “Unleashing the power of the dream ... making it a reality.”