At the suggestion of gay and Ward 8 community activist Phil Pannell, organizers of D.C.’s Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday parade, set to take place Jan. 16, 2012, are inviting members of the LGBT community to take part in the event.
Lead organizer Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer, the city’s African-American community newspaper, said a parade organizing committee has been reaching out to all communities, including the LGBT community, in an effort to boost participation in the parade.
She noted that 2012 will mark the first time in seven years that the King parade will take place on the Martin Luther King Day holiday, which commemorates King’s birthday.
Organizers in 2005 changed the parade date to April, saying the weather would be better in the spring. But according to Barnes, community activists this year called for returning the parade to the King Day holiday, which takes place each year on the third Monday in January.
Pannell said he is encouraging LGBT organizations to march in contingents in the parade. He said he had hoped the city’s LGBT marching band, the Different Drummers, would participate. But Barnes told the Blade on Monday that a representative of the band said the band doesn’t perform in January and February.
The parade is scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m. on Jan. 16 at the intersection Milwaukee Pl., S.E. and Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. and continue north on Martin Luther King Ave. for about a mile and a half, Barnes said. It will end on the 4200 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. at the site of Leckie Elementary School. Parade contingents and floats are scheduled to assemble at the starting point of the parade at 9:30 a.m.
A signup form for entering floats or contingents in the parade, along with more details of the event, are available at mlkholidayparadedc.org.