Kingdom Day committee holds COVID tests instead of canceled parade – Daily News

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers a sermon at Friendship Baptist Church, Pasadena’s oldest black church, in February 1960. (Photo courtesy of Pasadena Museum of History Archives.)

For a second year in a row, the streets around Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue in South Los Angeles — the starting point of the traditional Kingdom Day Parade — will be quiet on MLK Day.

The annual parade, which honors the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his national day and traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of spectators, has again been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But organizers have come up with a plan B, in hopes they can still do good in King’s name on Monday during the holiday celebrating his birthday, which is often observed as a day of service.

Instead of floats and marching bands and the traditional post-parade festival in Leimert Park, organizers are planning a free drive-in COVID-19 rapid test event along a stretch of Boulevard Degnan near the park.

This follows the Jan. 7 cancellation of what would have been the 37th annual Los Angeles premier MLK Day event — a decision made “with some agony,” according to Adrian Dove, chairman of the Congressional Parade Committee for L.A. Racial Equality (CORE-CA), which is sponsoring the parade.

“The entire Kingdom Day Parade Board of Directors voted unanimously to take the drastic step of canceling this year’s street parade to avoid any possibility of sponsoring a superspreader event. “, said Dove at the time.

In an interview with City News Service last week, Dove described how the COVID testing event has become its group’s best alternative.

“I thought it wasn’t enough to pull out (from the parade) – you have to do something more than that, so instead of not contributing to the spread (of COVID-19), I’m going to work on it. prevent it,” Colombe said.

“And when I saw people lining up (for tests), I said, ‘I could do it.

He said the committee also had some 150 volunteers lined up for the parade and they too wanted to do “something positive” on King’s behalf.

Many will attend during Monday’s test event.

After last year’s parade was canceled, organizers had time to plan an hour-long televised celebration that included an interview with King’s eldest son, highlights from past parades and interviews with local dignitaries. about King’s impact on their lives.

But this year’s Omicron surge came too close to the scheduled parade date to hold another event with so many moving parts, Dove said.

Still, he added, organizers had already rented barricades and other parade paraphernalia, and didn’t want to see the money go for nothing – so the COVID testing event was quickly put together.

The committee will use an area near Leimert Park for the rapid drive-in COVID test event.

Dove said the committee purchased 500 rapid tests — the most it could get of the in-demand product — and cars could line up on West 43rd Street at Degnan Boulevard from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday.

Former President Ronald Reagan signed a bill in 1983 to create the federal holiday in King’s honor, and the holiday was first observed in 1986.

It falls on the third Monday in January, close to King’s birthday, January 15. The civil rights icon was born in 1929 and was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39. Monday marks the 93rd anniversary of his birth.