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St. Petersburg’s MLK Parade Is Going Virtual

A band member plays the trombone for parade attendees.
MLKDreamBig.com
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A band member plays trombone during the 2020 MLK Jr. Dream Big Parade in St. Petersburg. This year's parade will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The St. Petersburg MLK Day Parade is going virtual this year due to COVID-19.

While there may not be any marching, floats, or beads this year, the organizers of St. Petersburg’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade say they’re putting forward their best effort to make sure the show goes on.

The 35th annual MLK Jr. Dream Big Parade is being forced to go virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anthony Hart, with event host Advantage Village Academy (AVA), admitted it’ll be challenging to move the celebration online.

“I’ve been doing it since 2017, now going to virtual, we have to coincide with our video people, coincide with the city of St. Pete video people so they can get everything laid out so that there will be no hiccups,” said Hart.

“We also are making sure that the bands that we are going to have there virtually, video people are doing it right so everything can get online like we want it to be; it’s just a lot of moving parts.”

Since its creation in 2008, AVA’s mission has been to empower St. Pete’s youth and rid the community of racial disparities. With the events that transpired in 2020, such as the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Hart believes that we have some work to do if we want to reach equality in America.

“To speak for just me personally, I think it was a travesty what happened, and I think a lot of injustice was done, but in retrospect, we still have a long way before equality is given to us, we’re still fighting for that every day.”

St. Petersburg’s MLK Day Parade is one of the longest-running parades in the nation, bringing together all races, religions, and backgrounds to celebrate the life of Dr. King and his accomplishments.

While the parade may not be in person, Hart said there is an effort being made to make sure the community still feels involved.

“With everything that's going on, I just hope that everyone can participate in some form or fashion or way and that everyone just stay positive and safe for 2021 because 2020 was a rough year for everyone, it really was,” said Hart. “And I just think as a nation, we just need to heal and move forward with everything that's going on.”

There will be one smaller, in-person event, a Creative Dance Showcase at Campbell Park Football Field Saturday at 5 p.m. A limited number of free tickets are being distributed at AVA’s offices at 833 22nd Street S. in St. Petersburg.

A live-streamed lip-sync contest Friday at 6 p.m., Sunday night’s Youth Awards Banquet, and Monday’s Parade at 11 a.m. will stream online at MLKDreamBig.com.

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