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South LA’s Kingdom Day Parade – Like Pasadena’s Black History Parade – Is Canceled by COVID Concerns

Kingdom Day Committee Hosting COVID Testing in Lieu of Canceled Parade

Published on Sunday, January 16, 2022 | 5:56 am

For a second straight year, 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 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his national holiday and traditionally draws hundreds of thousands of spectators, has again been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last Wednesday, Pasadena announced the city’s traditional Black History Parade normally held in February had met a similar fate.

“In an abundance of caution, the City of Pasadena Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department and the Black History Planning Committee have canceled the 2022 Black History Parade and Festival due to COVID-19 concerns,” Pasadena’s announcement read.

Instead, the City and Black History Planning Committee will host a wide variety of free family-friendly events this year in celebration of Black History Month.

A city spokesperson went on to say the parade would not necessarily violate local or state health orders for mega-events but was considered to present such health risks that the organizers elected to cancel it.

Organizers of other big events — including the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Half Marathon and 5K — decided otherwise, to proceed with their events, which is allowed if participants follow required health protocols, the spokesperson said.

“The Black History Parade is super important as we keep alive the importance of a people at the heart of the founding and growth of complex city named Pasadena. So, it is with some sorrow that the Parade was canceled, but I suspect that decision was made based upon the science underpinnings COVID-19,” said Councilmember John Kennedy.

“The risk of significant spread of the virus must have been the most relevant factor. However, I am also told that many of the other wonderful activities associated with Black History Month will take place.”

Those events will occur throughout February, which is Black History Month, and are listed on the Pasadena Now calendar of events.

In light of their cancellation, Kingdom Day Parade organizers in Los Angeles have also come up with a Plan B, hoping they can still do some good in King’s name Monday during the holiday celebrating his birthday  —  which is often observed as a day of service.

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

It follows the Jan. 7 cancellation of what would have been the 37th edition of L.A.’s premier MLK Day event  —  a decision made “with some agony,” according to Adrian Dove, Parade Committee Chairman for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE-CA), which sponsors the parade.

“The entire Board of Directors of the Kingdom Day Parade voted unanimously to take the drastic action of canceling this year’s parade on the street in order to avoid even the faintest possibility of sponsoring a super- spreader event,” Dove said at the time.

In an interview with City News Service last week, Dove described how the COVID testing event became his group’s next-best alternative.

“I thought it’s not enough to just bow out (of the parade)  —  you need to do something more than that, so instead of not contributing to the spread (of COVID-19), I’m going to work on preventing it,” Dove said.

“And when I saw people lined up (for testing), I said, `I could do that.”‘

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

Many will be assisting during Monday’s testing event.

After last year’s parade cancellation, organizers had time to plan an hourlong televised celebration that featured an interview with King’s oldest son, highlights of past parades and interviews with local dignitaries about King’s impact on their lives.

But this year’s Omicron surge hit too close to the planned parade date to organize 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 naught  —  so the COVID testing event was quickly put together.

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

Dove said the committee has purchased 500 rapid tests  —  the most it could obtain of the in-demand product  —  and that cars can line up on West 43rd Street off 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 to honor King, and the holiday was first observed in 1986.

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

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One thought on “South LA’s Kingdom Day Parade – Like Pasadena’s Black History Parade – Is Canceled by COVID Concerns

  • Politicians have become very adept at using the phrase “out of an abundance of caution.” What that really means is just how much FEAR can be instilled in the minds of a given group of people. In this case it is the black community. Now all these people want to do is celebrate an important life and legacy. This celebration is no less significant than a Rose Parade held just a few weeks ago with bands, floats, football teams, AND lots of spectators on the street – not the ones in the stands either. There they were lining the 5- mile route on both sides of the street. The excuse used to deny the parades across LA and Pasadena is that “we are just following the science.” That is not true. The decision makers – just like Hitler – are following their political desires to break our freedom and liberty. It is now time to tear off the masks and parade in the streets – peacefully – but none the less parade with pride and joy. The day and the month can and must be celebrated publicly without dictator interference. Oh, if you must know [it really makes no difference] I am white with some very dear friends who are black and other ethnic origins.