PALMETTO -- Freedom rang on Saturday afternoon as families came together Saturday in Palmetto to view the annual parade celebrating the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. who fought for social justice.
Palmetto High student Bianca Jimenez stood wearing a Quinceanera dress, outside Monica's Bridal and Quince shop, excited to see the parade, she said.
"It's just seeing all the smiles celebrating," Bianca said. "It's always inspirational and I've always liked it."
Bianca, 16, was asked by family-friends who own the shop to model, and wave at all those in the parade. She was hoping to see some of her friends.
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"They are in JROTC, so hopefully I will see them march by," she said.
The parade featured many familiar faces including Manatee County Sheriff Brad Stuebe, Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler, Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant, school board members and county commissioners. All the local high schools' JROTC programs and the Manatee High marching band, the Marching 'Canes, marched in the parade
Children scurried as the tried to gather the candy and beads thrown from floats.
Toni McManus, 71, stood up from her children smiling, as she looked down the 8th Avenue in Palmetto for any sign of the start of the parade. It was not her first time waiting for the parade.
"It's something to look forward to," McManus said. "My grandson is in it."
She was with her husband Don McManus, 76, and one of her daughters Sherry Boglarsky.
"I'm always excited," Boglarsky said. "He never notices us though."
Johnathan Yaeckel, 5, of Bradenton, was enjoying a coconut ice-cream bar while he waited for the parade.
"I'm excited to see everything and I've been here before," Johnathan said.
The 5-year-old was sitting with his mom and dad, John and Ashley Yaeckel, both 28, and their friend Nick McKee, 31.
He's been home sick all week, so this is exactly what he needed," she said.
McKee, originally from Bradenton, was visiting them escaping the cold.
"Right now at home it's 32 degrees," McKee said. "Look how lucky I am here in a t-shirt."
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.