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"We're all Americans:" Energetic MLK event drew people out of homes in Naples

Participants made their way north on 3rd street to Cambier Park in the heart of Naples for a celebration
MLK day Naples
Posted at 5:36 PM, Jan 15, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-15 17:45:41-05

NAPLES, Fla — The City of Naples celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a large downtown parade Monday morning. The event featured a vibrant 30 minute march organized by the NAACP of Collier County.

The 27th annual MLK parade started at 11am near Broad Avenue and 3rd Street and drew in hundreds of participants and spectators.

Local high schools and organizations, wearing special colors and with trumpets and pompoms in hand, joined the march to pay tribute to the late civil rights leader, who rose to prominence in the 1960's for his non-violent approach to demonstrations demanding equal rights for African-Americans.

When Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, it would be another 18 years before President Ronald Reagan signed the January federal holiday into law. The third Monday in January was chosen, as Dr. King's birthday was January 15.

As Monday's energetic and musical procession made its way north on Third Street, residents poured out of their houses, joining in solidarity, holding American flags, and holding up signs with quotes from MLK.

Notably, the Democratic Party, local non-profits and several government officials attended the parade.

Rod Joseph, a parade attendee and combat veteran running for U.S. Senate spoke to Fox 4 about the event's significance to his team.

"The country is now facing a divisive time... with Democrats, Republicans, everybody not liking each other. But moments like these, there's no party involved," Joseph stated.

"We are all Americans... we are all Americans," Joseph emphasized.

The musical parade concluded at Cambier Park, but the festivities continued at lunchtime with live entertainment, food, and celebrations throughout the day.