BROOKSVILLE — Ann Williams had yet to be born when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous speech about a dream in Washington, D.C., in 1963, or when King's life was cut short at the age of 39 in Memphis five years later.
Williams, a 40-year-old nurse and community activist raised in Brooksville, learned about King in school, just as youngsters do this time of year. The civil rights icon would have turned 82 on Saturday.
"The older generation is passing on, and we need to show the younger generation it's important that they come out and do something in the community that's positive," Williams said.
In that spirit, Williams took up the task to help organize Monday's parade and festival in King's honor. The theme of the festivities this year: "Bridging the Gap."
The parade returns for its second year after a three-year hiatus.
"Each year it's got to get better, and it seems like this year we've gotten more support from the community," Williams said.
Both the city and the county waived fees for police support, said Pastor Clarence Clark, president and CEO of Shiloh Problem Solvers. The nonprofit outreach program in Brooksville is sponsoring the parade and festival.
"We just hope that everybody participates," Clark said. "Martin Luther King stood for world peace, so we're trying to get everybody involved and show the county can be unified on one accord."
The procession starts at 10 a.m. at Dr. M.L. King Jr. Boulevard and Hale Avenue in Brooksville. More than 50 entrants will make their way east on King to Jefferson Street.
There will be the typical phalanx of local public officials and the flashing lights and blaring sirens of local police and fire units. Brooksville Mayor Frankie Burnett Jr. — the second African-American to hold that post in the city's history — will be near the front as grand marshal.
Marching bands from Central and Hernando high schools will provide brass and drum beats. Members of the Buffalo Soldiers will make their way on horseback.
The party starts immediately afterward at Kennedy Park, a few blocks east of the end of the parade route. High school musicians will face off in a battle of the bands, step dancers will perform, and food will be available.
Six booths set up by local church groups will document King's life: his childhood as a preacher's son in Atlanta; his leadership roles in key events like the march on Selma, Ala., and the bus boycott; his famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and his assassination on April 4, 1968.
"That's the way we bridge the gap," Clark said. "Seniors will share their experience, and the youth and older generation will intermingle together."
Tony Marrero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1431.
These business and government offices will be closed Monday, in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
• Hernando County libraries, all branches
• Hernando County government offices
• THE Bus and Trans-Hernando public transportation
• Supervisor of Elections offices
• U.S. Postal Service
• Local banks
• Hernando County Sheriff's Office
• Hernando County public schools
• Hernando County Recreation Department
• Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce
• Department of Children and Families
• Pasco-Hernando Community College, all campuses
• Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative
• Southwest Florida Water Management District
• Brooksville Police Department offices
• Brooksville City Hall
• City of Brooksville Sanitation Division: Monday's pickups will be on Tuesday and Tuesday's pickups will be on Wednesday.