First local Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade to take place in Murrieta

The Murrieta and Temecula area’s very first Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade will take place in 2018.

The Inland Empire Men’s Club will host both the parade, Jan. 15, and a scholarship fundraiser banquet, Jan. 13, in honor of the civil rights icon.

Charles Washington, president of the men’s club and owner of Rico’s Barbershop in Murrieta, said high attendance at a small memorial celebration at his business earlier in 2017 sparked a conversation about a larger event.

“We decided that the interest was pretty good, and people came to us and said, ‘why don’t you guys expand this and do something bigger?’” he said. “We saw the interest, and we saw how many people showed up for that and we had the (Murrieta) mayor here and we had the mayor give a little speech, and we decided to move forward with it.”

He said members of the men’s club got in touch with local leaders and set to organizing a parade. The parade will head through downtown Murrieta along B Street, 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 15. The route will stretch from Washington Avenue to Town Square Park – a shorter route than the city’s Veteran’s Day parade.

He said the parade would include various high school organizations, as well as some college fraternity alumni organizations.

“We’re minimizing the vehicles because the route is so short, (and) because we have a lot of kids in it,” Washington said.

The parade will include retired Riverside County sheriff’s deputy Shelley Kennedy-Smith as grand marshal.

Parade entrants will make a $25 donation, and banquet attendees will pay $60 for tickets. The proceeds, Washington said, will go to the men’s club scholarship fund for local high school seniors who can apply at www.iemcmentoring.com. He said scholarships in recent years have been as much as $1,500.

“We try to give out as many as we can, but if we only have one person to apply, we just give that person whatever money we have for the scholarship,” he said.

The banquet will be held at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, and will feature Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington as a guest speaker.

Both Martin Luther King Jr. Day events are a work in progress, Washington said, but they’re something he hopes to see continue in the future.

“We’re excited about this, and we’re just trying to get the word out,” he said. “A lot of times when you start something like this, you don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle, but as you move forward year after year after year, and things get bigger, and then the pieces start coming together. So we’re getting a lot of support now, we’re getting closer to it, and I can see everybody getting involved now.”

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