Winter Haven MLK Parade 2024
by James Coulter
More than 60 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared his dream that one day both black and white people could walk down the street together in perfect harmony.
More than 60 years later, people both black and white marched down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Winter Haven in celebration of that one man’s dream during the annual MLK parade.
More than 100 units including floats, marching bands, dance troupes, and rescue vehicles traveled along the parade route starting from Lake Maude Park, along MLK Boulevard, and ending at Lake Silver Park.
Various local businesses and organizations, churches, schools, government bodies, and fire and rescue squads participated in the parade. Even the Honorable Sheriff Grady Judd made an appearance with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The parade served as the proud conclusion to a weeklong celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy in Winter Haven.
This celebration started with an official proclamation being read at the Winter Haven City Commission meeting on Monday evening. It continued with several events throughout the week including a wreath-laying celebration on Thursday and a Unity Day Luncheon on Friday.
These events were hosted through the Winter Haven MLK Parade Commission. The theme for this year’s celebration was “Spreading Hope, Courage, and Unity.”
According to their website: “The Winter Haven MLK Parade has continued to grow and improve in quality and content since its inception in January 1979, a vision founded by life-long resident and community advocate, Glenda Jones. Began 44 years ago as a peaceful march, the MLK Commemorative Parade has evolved into one of the largest and most attended MLK parade events in Polk County.”