Biloxi planning huge Martin Luther King celebration

The City of Biloxi will again be hosting the big three — Alcorn State University, Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University – for its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Parade.

Biloxi’s parade and battle of the bands takes place Monday, Jan. 20, and is part of a Coastwide MLK celebration that will feature a Sunday afternoon observance at the Coast Convention Center, where Rep. Bennie Thompson will be keynote speaker.

But it’s the downtown Biloxi affair on Monday that has been attracting several thousand spectators to see marching bands from predominantly black state colleges in a parade and in a battle of the bands at Yankie Stadium after the parade.

The city first hosted the three renowned marching bands in 1999, as part of the Tricentennial Celebration, and has worked to have all three return each year for MLK Day.

“Biloxi has become known as having one of the best-attended MLK celebrations in the South,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said. “And we’re looking for another great turnout this year.”

The parade is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at the Biloxi Community Center on Howard Avenue, travel west on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, north on Reynoir Street, east on Esters Boulevard, north on Main and east on Division Street to Yankie Stadium.

A program at Yankie Stadium will begin about 1 p.m. and will be followed by the battle of the bands.

An MLK carnival, with amusement rides, will begin Thursday and continue through Monday at the Yankie Stadium parking lot.

Civic groups or individuals wishing to participate in the parade should call Vonnie Travis, 436-4048.

Biloxi’s MLK event is being sponsored and coordinated by the City of Biloxi, the Biloxi branch of the NAACP, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church and the Coastwide Committee for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.