City of Muskogee

Martin Luther King Jr. Day event organizers said activities will proceed as scheduled despite a resurgence in the number of new COVID-19 infections across the state.

Deputy Mayor Derrick Reed, director of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, said organizers are working closely with public health officials to put in place protocols necessary to ensure safety. While events have been canceled in other cities, Reed said celebrating the civil rights icon is important, but "we want to make sure everybody is safe."

"This is one thing we really pride ourselves on," Reed said. "This is a big celebration that brings people to Muskogee from throughout the area — we don't want people thinking we've canceled our events because of what others are doing."

Reed said the events will center around or take place near the King Center, where a free pancake breakfast will kick off the celebration at 7:30 a.m. Monday. The Muskogee Ministerial Alliance Worship Service will follow when the breakfast ends at 10 a.m.

Those who plan to take part in the parade will begin lining up when the worship service at the King Center concludes at 11 a.m. Reed said participants will be able to sign up at the site the day of the parade. 

"Our rules are, if you show up you can get in the parade," Reed said. "We don't want anyone feeling like they won't have a spot in the parade."

Reed said this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade will help kick off a yearlong sesquicentennial celebration of Muskogee's founding. Bernice Walker, who turns 104 this year, will serve as grand marshal of the parade. 

The parade route extends along Martin Luther King Street, beginning at North 12th Street and ending at North Third Street. Reed said some of the highlights following the parade will include live entertainment and food.

While the day is about King and his legacy, Reed said organizers will be focused on safety throughout the day.

"We are in communication with our health department and working with them on  strict protocols," Reed said. "We're going for it — we want to bring the community back together."  

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