Richmond Hill City Council Tuesday night approved the first annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and the 19th annual Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival.
The MLK parade will be Jan. 19, 2019, the Saturday before the national observance honoring the slain civil rights leader. Members of Unity in the Community have been discussing the event with city officials, and council voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of it.
“Cities that thrive have a mix of innovation, partnership, collaboration and diversity,” said Craig Butts, president of Unity in the Community. “Dr. King brought hope and healing, and it is our hope that ‘I Have a Dream’ will live forever.”
Mayor Russ Carpenter agreed.
“So many other cities, big and small, honor Dr. King with a parade each year,” he said. “It is time to add Richmond Hill to that list. In this, we will recognize the historical strides of the Civil Rights movement, especially Dr. King’s advocacy of non-violent reform. We also intend to highlight the contributions of African-Americans to our rich history.”
African-Americans make up about 17 percent of Richmond Hill’s population.
Unity in the Community’s Sharon Butts said the parade will be open to all who wish to enter, and the group is currently working on developing an application and securing sponsors.
The parade will follow the same route as the Richmond Hill Christmas Parade, and will conclude in J.F. Gregory Park with a full day of activities.
J.F. Gregory Park, of course, is also where the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival will be held. Dates for the 2018 event are Oct. 19-21. Council voted on three items for the annual event that draws tens of thousands of visitors: to allow the Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber of Commerce to use the park during the festival; to allow the sale of beer and wine at the event on Oct. 19 and 20, and to waive the $450 fireworks fee for a fireworks display the night of Oct. 20.