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Celebration of a dream: Annual MLK parade ignites excitement in Palmetto

PALMETTO -- As the floats and bands passed by on what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King’s 82nd birthday Saturday, Schwann Rhodes could not help but reflect on the life of the man who dreamed of a united country.

“It was a great dream and we should never forget it,” Rhodes, 52, said. “It’s good to see different people out here of all races and backgrounds like Martin Luther King wanted. He wanted us all to be as one.”

She wasn’t the only one who was thinking of the man who made the day possible as the line of marching bands from local high schools, political figures and members of the community marched down the parade route.

Churches, community organizations and others created floats and decorated cars with photos of King and colorful streamers.

Along the parade path, King’s dream was truly coming to life. People of all backgrounds were sitting side by side to honor his life and accomplishments.

As parade participants walked, or in some cases rode by, they threw beaded necklaces and candy to those watching. Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube was among them.

“We always have fun,” Steube said, as he explained his necklace-throwing strategy. “I try to get them to the little kids but sometimes older people jump out and grab them.”

And children raced one another into the streets to catch a few pieces of candy and colorful necklaces.

While his son was stuffing his pockets fill of candy, Tim Calvit talked to him about who King was.

“I tried to explain how important he was and how he wanted everyone to be treated the same,” Calvit said. ”It’s hard to believe that our country was segregated but it wasn’t that long ago and we still have a problem in some states with race.”

Calvit said the key for parents is to teach from the mistakes of the past and to teach their children to take on King’s dream of having character, not race, be the measure of a person.

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