A chilly wind did not stop Statesboro from celebrating with style Monday as a parade commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. drew crowds that lined the city's main streets.
In spite of the icy breeze, the sun was bright, and an atmosphere of excitement and pride was evident as bystanders called out to parade participants who walked or rode past.
Brightly colored floats with inspirational messages such as "Towards a Just Society," "Follow His Dream" and "A Future of Hope" followed marching bands, church groups and antique cars, with a few beauty queens and politicians waving at the crowd.
Chamieya Canty was there to watch her daughter march with the Baby Grand Studio, and she brought her smiling younger daughter with her.
"I'm glad Statesboro does this," she said. "A lot of states don't do this. I am proud to see so many people turn out and get involved."
Edward Butler had trouble finding the right words to describe what the annual parade recognizing King means to him.
"It's just ... everything," he said.
Bryan Butler said he was pleased to see the event growing.
"They have new things every year," he said. "There is lots of new stuff, and I am proud of everyone involved."
Many people took the parade as an opportunity to promote businesses and local events and make a little money by selling refreshments including hot boiled peanuts. A number of parade participants handed out candy and fliers. Several waved American flags and placards bearing King's image.
Dance groups strutted, small children rode in toy cars and wagons, and community action groups made their presence known by chanting loudly and singing. The parade was a lively one, and one float broadcast one of King's famous speeches as it rolled past. The men with the John Wesley Masonic Lodge dressed sharply in suits and ties as they greeted bystanders.
"This is so inspiring," said a woman who identified herself as Terry Jones. "Young kids involved - his (King's) dream is being carried on through their eyes."
Agnes Young didn't want to take much time away from watching to talk to a reporter, but in between calling out to friends passing by in the parade, she said, "I just don't want to miss anything. This is the largest parade I've seen. It is well planned, and a lot of work and thought was put into it."
As the parade turned down West Main Street and onto MLK Drive, many made their way to a community gathering afterward at Tabernacle Baptist Church on Bulloch Street.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.