Lakeland’s Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Community Parade began as the dream of civic leader, scoutmaster, and retired school crossing guard Christina Simmons. In 1978, ten years after King’s death, Simmons organized a small parade in honor of the slain Civil Rights leader. Those first years the parade was primarily composed of Simmons own Boy Scouts from Troop 762.
Over the years, Lakeland’s parade has grown into a large-scale event for the community featuring marching bands, floats from local clubs, churches, and businesses from across Central Florida. The City of Lakeland, in cooperation with a parade committee of community members, has officially coordinated the event since 2006.
With the help of the Education and Enrichment Group (E.E.G), the parade has become a weekend of activities, including concerts, a prayer breakfast, and an oratorical contest for youth.