PALMETTO -- Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream was alive and in full spirit in the streets of Palmetto on Saturday, as residents and participants came out to make sure his dream and memory live on.
People lined the streets to watch the floats and bands marching down the street for the annual MLK Day parade, portraying this year's theme, "All Unity, the Path to the 'Dream.' "
For some participants, like Shelli Freeland Eddie, an adviser with the Gamma Rho Zeta chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, the parade was important in teaching that path.
"It's a way to get out and let the community know we care about Dr. King," Eddie said. "A lot of times they missed the civil rights movement, so all they know is Martin Luther King, and that is sad."
The local sorority chapter rode in the parade with two youth groups of middle school-aged and high school-aged kids.
"It was a little chilly, but other than that it was great," Eddie said.
Chilly it was, and many spectators rushed home quickly following the parade, with temperatures topping in the mid-50s Saturday.
Betty Johnson and her family enjoyed the parade, and the reminders it creates.
"They represent Martin Luther King," Johnson said. "We didn't have it back in my day, so now I'm glad at
least we have this."
For her, the parade has been has been a annual tradition for a couple decades.
For some, like Darwood Hunter, Saturday's parade was a new experience.
"I has a great time," Hunter said. " It's my first time being here, I'm from North Carolina."
Hunter was accompanied by youth from a local group home that he helped bring to experience the festivities.
"I loved hearing the bands perform," Hunter said. "It was fantastic."
While all the bands were great, he said, his favorite was the Southeast High School marching band.
Jimmy Frawley, a resident from the group home, also loved the bands. He beamed, unable to stop smiling.
Sherman Council, the Police Athletic League assistant football director, said this year's parade was as great as the handful he previously participated in.
"It was great spirit, totally different experience each year," Council said. "Every float has a different theme."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeleon1012.