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Thousands line the streets for 29th Kindom Day Parade

Community leaders and celebrities march in Dr. King’s honor

City News Service | 1/23/2014, midnight

Thousands of people lined streets in South Los Angeles Monday for the 29th annual Kingdom Day Parade, which featured marching bands, local dignitaries and a smattering of celebrities waving to the crowd.

Southern California’s largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance began at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard, headed south on Crenshaw Boulevard and concluded at Vernon Avenue.

The parade’s theme—”Ain’t Gonna’ Let Nobody Turn Us ‘Round’— was chosen because of court decisions and legislative attempts “trying to unravel the voting rights and other gains of the civil rights era,” according to parade manager Wendy Gladney Dean.

The celebrity grand marshal was be Shaunie O’Neal, a cast member of the VH1 series “Basketball Wives” and the former wife of retired basketball star Shaquille O’Neal.

Mayor Eric Garcetti was the parade’s grand marshal.

“It’s an amazing tradition to see this, the largest such march in the country,” Garcetti told CBS2. “This parade brings together not only Los Angeles but the United States and Dr. King’s ideals.”

Other dignitaries taking part in the procession included Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, City Attorney Mike Feuer, county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Reps. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, and Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, and Councilmen Bernard Parks, Curren Price and Herb Wesson.

The Los Angeles Dodgers continued their participation in the parade by having former Dodgers “Sweet” Lou Johnson, Dennis Powell and Derrel Thomas ride aboard the Dodger fire truck.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was also marked in Los Angeles County by efforts to beautify Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights and Horace Mann Middle School in South Los Angeles; a community clean-up at the Atlantic Theatre in North Long Beach; three community tree plantings elsewhere in Long Beach; a celebration at the Soka Gakkai International Auditorium in Santa Monica; and a blood drive at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.