Celebrating diversity: Martin Luther King Jr. Unity event set Jan. 18

The Martin Luther King celebration begins with a parade at 10 a.m. traveling through downtown Kissimmee.

The city of Kissimmee is ready to celebrate diversity with its sixth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Celebration Jan. 18.

It’s a highly anticipated free event of the year with fun for the whole family.

The day begins with a parade at 10 a.m. traveling through the heart of historic downtown. It will feature floats from local organizations and groups along Broadway, Dakin Avenue and Lakeview Drive.

 “It’s a fun time for the community to come together no matter where you are from,” said Kissimmee’s Public Information Officer Melissa Zayas.

One of the highlights of the event is the music featured at the festival beginning at 11 a.m. at Kissimmee Lakefront Park. Mary Wilson, a singer who was with the Supremes, is the headliner for the event. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 1988.

Along with Wilson, the House of Blues Gospel Brunch Band will also be performing. There will be plenty of gospel, soul and R&B music filling the air at the park.

“It’s family friendly with food trucks, crafts from local artists and a kid’s zone,” Zayas said.

There will also be marching bands and the winners of the Osceola students’ art and essay competition will be announced.

For the art contest, elementary, middle and high school students can submit a 2-D art piece and each one has to address the theme, “Peace Begins with Me.” Artwork must be submitted by Jan. 16 to the School District of Osceola County. Middle and high school students can also enter a writing contest. Middle school students can submit a poem and high school students can write a 300-word, five-paragraph essay also on the subject “Peace Begins with Me.” Schools select one winner per grade level then the final judging is done by local groups.

The city’s Parks and Recreation department has been working since summer of 2019 to plan this year’s event. Director Elizabeth Harris is excited to see it all come together.

“As I reflect on the 2020 city of Kissimmee’s MLK parade and festival, I can’t help but first think of one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ‘If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.’”

Zayas said they are expecting more than 3,000 people at the event.

 “It’s a big community and people take advantage of these events,” she said.