ST. PETERSBURG — Thousands of spectators turned out on a warm, sunny Monday for the city's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday parade, one of the largest such events in the country.
The 27th Annual National MLK Drum Major for Justice Parade included about 20 marching bands from the southeastern United States and floats representing a variety of themes, including the St. Petersburg City Council and Pinellas County Commission.
A crowd favorite was the St. Augustine High School Purple Nights Marching 100, from New Orleans.
"They don't sound like a high scool band,'' said March Bell, 71, a St. Petersburg native.
Bell, who has been attending the annual MLK parade since it began, recalled keeping his own middle school children out of school several years ago, before the day was declared a federal holiday.
Spectators and vendors selling hot dogs and ribs lined the parade route, which began on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. at Third Avenue S., proceeded north to Central Avenue, then east along Central to Bayshore Drive and north to Fifth Avenue NE, disbanding into Vinoy and North Shore Parks.
As in years past, police encouraged motorists to avoid certain travel routes between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Motorists were advised to use streets west of 16th Street, police said. After 10:30 a.m., drivers wanting to cross First Avenue N, Central Avenue or First Avenue S., were advised to use 28th Street, Interstate 275, or streets further west.