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MLK Drive festival in works

With the street’s renaming approved by city leaders in March,planning is under way for a dedication celebration for Dr. MartinLuther King Jr. Drive.

Organizers met Friday to begin planning for the July 30 event,which will include a parade, musical entertainment and otheractivities. Polly Byrd, who is heading up the effort, said futureprojects in honor of King are planned.

“Now we’re focusing on the street dedication and thiscelebration,” Byrd said.

At their March 1 meeting, aldermen voted to rename HamiltonStreet and a section of Spruce Street for King. Mayor BobMassengill told aldermen last week that 22 signs for the renamedstreet have been ordered and are expected to be in place by the endof June.

Byrd said the celebration will take place 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.July 30. She is hoping for a “festival” atmosphere.

Police Chief Pap Henderson visited with Byrd and organizers todiscuss parade plans.

The chief said the event will likely need two permits, one forthe parade and one for music that is planned for the day. He saidhis department will be glad to help make the event go smoothly.

“We’ll be visible to help you any way we can,” Hendersonsaid.

The parade is scheduled to start at the post office, go toMonticello Street and then to MLK Drive. It was undecided Fridaywhether the parade will go north or south once it reaches MLKDrive.

Byrd said she hopes a stage can be set up near the intersectionof Monticello and MLK Drive. Gospel, blues, jazz and rap music willbe featured.

“The main focus is Monticello (Street) and King (Drive),” Byrdsaid.

In the future, Byrd said, a foundation will be established totry to raise $100,000 for a King monument near the intersection. Itwill feature King’s famous “I Have Dream Speech.”

“That’s a later project,” said Byrd, also mentioning plans formemorial bricks for a sidewalk along the street.

Byrd said volunteers will be needed to serve on various planningcommittees. Committees will meet every Friday to discuss andfinalize plans.