Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the national day set aside to honor the slain civil rights leader, and the Tampa Bay area marks the day with music, marches, interfaith services and lots of giving back. Since 1996, the holiday has also been the focus of the national Martin Luther King Day of Service where volunteers across the country honor King's legacy by donating their time to make a difference. Here are the highlights of events around the area:
National Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Parade
One of the biggest MLK parades in the country, coming just a day after a high-stepping drum line extravaganza, the St. Petersburg parade is like a big family reunion, with thousands of people lining the parade route where beads and candy are tossed into the crowd and thunderous music fills the air. The route begins at 11 a.m. Monday at Third Avenue S. and Martin Luther King St., proceeds north to Central Avenue, east to Bayshore Drive, and north to Fifth Ave. N. before disbanding at Vinoy Park.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade Tampa
This the 25th year for the city of Tampa's annual community parade. It begins at 15th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, before it travels east to 22nd Street and ends at Osborne Avenue. The home-town scene is marked by civic walking units, marching bands and numerous floats. It starts at noon Monday.
Plant City Parade
Part of a four-day festival in Plant City, Saturday's parade grand marshal is Bettye Goodwine, a beloved local retired teacher. Parade participants include the Tampa Bay Pose Corvette Club, the Strawberry Crest JROTC Battalion and Color Guard and the CowBros African American Cowboys. The parade starts at Waller and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and proceeds east down to the MLK Sports Complex. It runs 1-2 p.m. Saturday.
Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Battle of the Bands and Drum Line Extravaganza
Bands from historically black colleges and universities throughout the South each put on a 10-minute halftime show featuring the trademark high-stepping moves, funky drumbeats, dancing and acrobatics. $10 advance, $12 at the gate, $15 VIP. Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg. (727) 388-9494. 4 p.m. Sunday.
Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival Music Fest
In part of the 10-day celebration, the music features Throw Back Saturday with classic acts and Jazz Sunday with R&B and soul music. Headliners include the Ohio Players (Saturday) and Pieces of a Dream (Sunday). Free. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Gospel choirs from across the state celebrate with song and praise at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 1601 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Plant City. Free. 4 p.m. Saturday.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Festival
The family event celebrating the achievements of the civil rights leader also showcases the talents and pride of the East Tampa community. Includes a march, live music, children's activities and a craft tent. Free. Belmont Heights Little League Park, 2101 East Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., Tampa. (813) 248-3977. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday.
Plant City MLK Festival Opening Ceremony
Join the city and its employees as they kick off the week long festival honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day with guest speakers and performances by the Lincoln IB Elementary Choir and Gentlemen's Quest Marshall Middle School. Free. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 1601 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Plant City. (813) 757-9195. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday.
Plant City Freedom Walk
The Plant City festival wraps up Monday with this walking tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., followed by an expo of health and fitness information and free lake-side zumba classes and a screening of the film School Daze. at Samual W. Cooper Park, 900 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Plant City. It runs 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday.
Black Heritage Festival Youth Night
Area youth present their interpretation of African-American heroes of yesterday and today. Includes motivational speakers. Free. Blake High School, 1701 North Boulevard, Tampa. Toll-free 1-888-224-1733, ext. 3143. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Heritage Walk for Cancer
The Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival 5K run or walk through the streets of downtown Tampa honors board member Felecia Ann Wintons-Taylor, who died of breast cancer. Free. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. Toll-free 1-888-224-1733. 7-9 a.m. Saturday.
USF Lecture Series
As part of the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival, this portion of the series features Hill Harper, author and star of CSI: NY, presenting "Manifest Your Destiny." He will discuss his personal experiences and why education is the foundation for success. A question-and-answer session follows each lecture. The event is open to the public but it's a good idea to arrive early; seating is limited and it usually fills up fast. Free. University of South Florida Marshall Student Center, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 974-1001. 7:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Breakfast (Tampa)
The Tampa Organization of Black Affairs hosts the 34th annual breakfast that brings together corporate sponsors, politicians, grass roots organizations and members of the community to celebrate and continue to carry out Dr. King's vision. This year's keynote speaker is Calvin O. Butts III. $35. Hilton Hotel Downtown Tampa, 211 N Tampa St., Tampa. (813) 221-4454. 6:45 a.m. Monday.
Heritage Golf Classic
In part of the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival, the eighth annual golf challenge provides food, prizes and networking opportunities for people of all cultures. $95. Rogers Park Golf Course, 7911 N Willie Black Drive, Tampa. Toll-free 1-888-224-1733. Noon-5:30 p.m. Monday.
Heritage Leadership Luncheon
The focus is to engage the community in current events that affect local communities and the nation. Featured guest speaker is the Rev. Dr. Raphael Gamaliel Warnock, Senior Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, spiritual home of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. $10, $120 table of eight. University Area Community Center, 14013 N 22nd St., Tampa. (813) 386-6687. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Drum Major for Justice Awards Banquet
The annual banquet is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities. Entertainment includes Wintley Phipps, Freddie Crawford and Derek Smith. $40. Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd., St. Petersburg. (727) 388-9494. 7 p.m. Friday.
Plant City Leadership Breakfast
This portion of the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival features a full breakfast with civic, government and faith based community leaders honoring area educators. Erica Riggins, Bay News 9, serves as master of ceremonies with Gladys Wright serving as guest speaker and a military tribute by the Durant JROTC Color Guard. $25. Plant City Campus of Hillsborough Community College at the John Trinkle Building, 1206 N Park Road, Plant City. (813) 757-6760. 7:30 a.m. Sunday.
Interfaith Memorial Service
The 28th service includes speakers, interfaith prayers, musical selections and more. Free. Beulah Baptist Instutional Church, 1006 W Cypress St, Tampa. 4 p.m. Monday.
Day of Service Blood Drive
Area Chick-fil-A locations in Tampa, Brandon, Pinellas Park, Oldsmar, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo and New Port Richey are hosting the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service Blood Drive. All donors receive a limited edition T-shirt and a Chick-fil-A coupon for free breakfast minis and a Chick-fil-A sandwich. In addition, donors receive a wellness checkup which includes blood pressure, temperature, iron count and cholesterol screening. Donors must be at least 16 years of age with proper ID. Call the toll-free number, or visit oneblood.org/promotions, to find a participating location. 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday.
MLK Day of Service: Make It A Day On, Not A Day Off
Middle and high school students can take advantage of the school holiday to learn about college preparation and opportunities available to them. College Prep 101 coaches students in speech etiquette, resume preparation, finding available scholarships and how to decided where they are going after graduation. Free. Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, 955 20th St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 894-4311. 8:30 a.m.-noon Monday.