Where to find MLK parades, Tampa Bay Black Heritage events and more

Get ready for parades, self-help and service events and family activities running through Jan. 25 as Tampa Bay celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.
The Lakewood High School Marching Spartans perform in St. Petersburg's 34th annual MLK Dream Big Parade in 2019 to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is the nation's longest-running parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Lakewood High School Marching Spartans perform in St. Petersburg's 34th annual MLK Dream Big Parade in 2019 to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is the nation's longest-running parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times (2019) ]
Published Jan. 7, 2020|Updated Jan. 8, 2020

The Tampa Bay area will celebrate the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in a big way this month. And the 10-day Tampa Bay Black Heritage Week celebration will bring family-friendly events that end with two days of chart-topping performers in Curtis Hixon Park.

King, one of the most influential and iconic leaders of the civil rights movement, was born on Jan. 15. His birthday has been officially celebrated since 1983 on the third Monday of January. It also evolved into the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, in which volunteers across the country donate their time to make a difference.

Jan. 20 will bring parades with high-stepping college bands. Downtown St. Petersburg hosts the nation’s longest-running parade, and there are parades in Tampa’s Cuscaden Park, Plant City and Brooksville.

The Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival brings a slew of talks, events and performances. Meanwhile, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts will have a free show on the Tampa Riverwalk with actors and musicians.

Here are some events coming up.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Big Parade: The annual parade in St. Petersburg will have seven marching bands, cheering squads, dance troupes and vans with music. The fifth annual Family Funday follows the parade at Tropicana Field. Free. 11 a.m. Jan. 20. The parade route begins along First Avenue S in downtown St. Petersburg.

Tampa MLK Day Parade: Wayne Brights of Wilson Funeral Home serves as grand marshal for the 31st annual parade featuring bands from Miles College (Alabama), Bethune–Cookman University (Daytona Beach), Edward Waters College (Jacksonville), Nassau, Bahamas, and Kingston, Jamaica. Also includes several drum lines, floats and an appearance by Miss Black Florida Elyse Lewis. The 2-mile route runs from Cuscaden Park to Middleton High School. Free. Noon Jan. 20. Cuscaden Park, 2900 N 15th St., Tampa. (813) 327-8316.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Plant City: Plant City commemorates Martin Luther King Jr. with "a salute to those who have served” theme. Activities include a parade, drum line battle, concerts and vendors. Free. 11 a.m. Jan. 18. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 1601 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Plant City. (813) 757-9195.

2020 MLK Parade Brooksville: The parade will proceed through downtown. Free. 10 a.m. Jan. 20. Hernando High School, 700 Bell Ave. (850) 445-8222.


For a full schedule of events, visit

College and Career Conversations: A conversation for middle and high school students in or considering a career transition. Free. 11 a.m. Jan. 11. Coworking and Collaboration Exchange, 5508 N 50th St., Tampa.

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Leadership Luncheon: Voting rights activist Desmond Meade serves as keynote speaker for the conversation designed to engage the community. $20. 11:30 a.m. Jan. 15. University Area Community Development Center, 14013 N 22nd St., Tampa.

Heritage Gala: The Royal Ball: Dress in ball attire that identifies your heritage for this royal gala with special guest Latimore. $65, $120 two. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16. Busch Gardens, 10165 N McKinley Drive, Tampa.

Heritage Festival Run/Walk Boot Camp for Health: A 5K run-walk to honor festival founder Felecia Ann Wintons is followed by a high-intensity fitness boot camp stressing cardio, strength, stamina, power, speed, flexibility and balance. $15-$20. 7:30 a.m. Jan. 18. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 218-3320.

TBBHF Music Fest: Tony! Toni! Tone!, Dwele and Eric Darius perform on Jan. 18. Nick Colionne, Third World and BK Jackson and Friends featuring Adam Hawley and Nicholas Cole perform on Jan. 19. $15-$109. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa.



MLK Dinner and Gala: The black-tie dinner in celebration of the 31st annual parade includes food, music and performances. $75. 6 p.m. Jan. 9. TPepin’s Hospitality Centre, 4121 N 50th St., Tampa. (813) 327-8316.

Move It to Lose It: A 5K run-walk to bring awareness to childhood obesity. Free. 8 a.m. Jan. 11. Hillsborough Community College, 8715 N 22nd St., Tampa. (813) 253-7000.

Passport 2 Literacy: Join the Caribbean Community Association for a day of food, books and games. Takes place as part of the MLK Day of Service. Free. 10 a.m. Jan. 11. Temple Terrace United Methodist Church, 5030 E Busch Blvd. (813) 431-0065.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet: The 47th annual banquet includes a cocktail hour, soul food buffet, keynote speaker, awards presentation, entertainment and dancing. $60. 5 p.m. Jan. 11. Surf’s Edge Club, 7315 Bayshore Blvd., Tampa. (813) 431-7811.

Arts Legacy REMIX: MLK Commemoration: A free show on the Tampa Riverwalk celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. and the power of storytelling. Sybil Johnson will portray Madame Fortune Taylor, the former slave who owned the land on which the Straz Center now sits. Performers include New Life Bucket Drummers, Fred Johnson, Voices of Inspiration (Walton Academy), Korean Association of West Florida, Allen Temple Gospel Choir, Parks Institute Dance Ensemble, Hefner and Hefner, Black High School Warrior Poets, Shreya’s Arts and Eric Darius. Free. 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17. David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827.

DaBaby vs. DaFuture: Put on your headphones and choose music by three hip-hop DJs for this silent dance party paying tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. $10-$20. 9 p.m. Jan. 18. Aloft Hotel, 4100 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 898-8000.

MLK Weekend Billionaire Brunch: The networking event designed to help entrepreneurs, creatives and professionals connect includes continental breakfast, keynote speaker Candy Lowe (owner of Black Business Bus Tour) and mimosas for purchase. $10.85. Noon Jan. 19. Touch, 2016 Town Center Blvd., Brandon. (813) 843-2003.

Grown and Sexy: Socialite Soiree: An upscale party featuring celebrity appearances, drink specials and food for purchase. Benefits the Boys and Girls Club and Metropolitan Ministries. No cover (food/drink additional). 9 p.m. Jan. 19. Ducky’s Sports Lounge, 1719 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 385-7352.

MLK Tribute: FanTalk Mondays takes on a Martin Luther King Jr. theme. Themed karaoke follows. Free. 9 p.m. Jan. 20. London Heights British Pub, 7701 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa. (813) 231-7200.

Civil Rights in the Sunshine State: The opening for an exhibit exploring the equality struggle of African Americans in Florida from the end of Reconstruction (1877) through the 1970s. Remains on display through April 24. Free. 11 a.m. Jan. 25. Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center, 1101 E River Cove St., Tampa. (813) 935-9402.

Hood to Hood Comedy Tour: The king of Jook City Tampa Tony and his brother Low serve as judges as comedians Raw J, Troy Martin and Young Ghost compete to be named King of the Hood. A performance by New Up follows. $10-$30. 7 p.m. Jan. 25. Whiskey North, 11921 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (813) 968-1515.


Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration: Clinical nurse educator Roshonda Phillips serves as keynote speaker for the VA’s tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Free. Noon Jan. 16. C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg. (727) 398-6661, ext. 17526.

MLK Step Show: Area fraternities and sororities show off their stepping skills. Free. 7 p.m. Jan. 17. St. Petersburg College, 6605 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 341-4772.

Dunedin Celebration: “Honoring the Dream” starts with a Unity Breakfast with entertainment, keynote speakers and readings of student papers on diversity. A march to Pioneer Park follows. Free. 8:30 a.m. Jan. 18. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 550 Laura Lane, Dunedin. (727) 738-2920.

Music and Cultural Festival: Bring the family for a multicultural day of live music, food and vendors. Free (food/drink additional). 11 a.m. Jan. 18. Albert Whitted Park, 107 Eighth Ave. SE, St. Petersburg. (727) 321-7919.

Gentlemen’s Masquerade Ball: The gala to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and bring awareness of youth human trafficking includes a champagne mixer, open bar, upscale buffet, silent auction, live music and dancing. $20-$35. 5:30 p.m. Jan. 18. Fort Harrison Hotel, 210 S Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater. (727) 467-6860.

One City Chorus — Embracing the Dream: A musical tribute under the direction of Jon Arterton, the 120-member community chorus presents social justice-themed songs with a video of Dr. King and three dramatic readings of his writings. $18. 7 p.m. Jan. 18. Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater, 2470 Nursery Road. (727) 531-7704.

MLK Dream Big Gospel Explosion: Inaugural gospel extravaganza featuring the First MLK Community Choir, under the direction of the Rev. Kevin Parrott. Free. 4 p.m. Jan. 19. Greater Mount Zion AME Church, 1045 16th St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 894-1393.

MLK Dream Big Band Showcase: Seven marching bands participating in the MLK Dream Big parade perform. Free. 5 p.m. Jan. 19. Campbell Park and Community Center, 601 14th St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 321-7919.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Salute: Join a candlelight vigil in the Legacy Garden to pay tribute to the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 5 p.m. Jan. 19. Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. 2240 Ninth Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 323-1104

MLK Dream Big Family Fun Day: Following the big parade, head to this festival with bounce houses, slides, vendors and representatives from area organizations and businesses. Free. 2 p.m. Jan. 20. Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7111.

MLK Day at Airheads: Celebration with dodgeball, rock climbing, a toddler play area and obstacle courses. Includes a drink and one slice of pizza. $9.99. 10 a.m. Jan. 20. Airheads Trampoline Arena Pinellas, 12401 Belcher Road, Largo. (727) 532-2120.

I Have a Dream Youth Expo: The motivational event for ages 10 to 17 features testimonies from young entrepreneurs, hands-on workshops facilitated by business owners, vendors, entertainment and seminars. Takes place as part of the MLK Day of Service. Free. Noon Jan. 25. Campbell Park and Community Center, 601 14th St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 313-6395.

North Suncoast

Brooksville MLK Weekend: The festival kicks off with the “Music and Arts Extravaganza.” $3. 6:30 p.m. Jan. 17. Hernando High School Performing Arts Center, 111 Ernie Chatman Run, Brooksville. (850) 445-8222.

The King of the World: Martin Luther King and Public Memory: Pasco-Hernando State College hosts its annual MLK Lecture Series with keynote speaker Maurice Hobson presenting “The King of the World: Martin Luther King and Public Memory.” Free. 1 p.m. Jan. 22. Pasco-Hernando State College - Porter Campus, 2727 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel. (727) 847-2727