PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Neighbors in Pasco County celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday with a symbolic march.
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Singing softly as they marched down a Port Richey street, dozens walked to remember the many marches led by King, the iconic civil rights pioneer.
It was one of many events held throughout the Bay area.
Darryll Stevenson is the CEO of the African American Club of Pasco, which put that county's annual event together.
"The march is a reflection of years ago when we protested. Blacks and whites protested together for equal rights," Stevenson said.
He led their MLK Day walk by putting kids up front, holding signs that simply had the word hate with a line through it.
"Our youth are it. They're either going to embrace diversity or they’re going to hate. Our kids embrace diversity," Stevenson said.
After a short march, the group held a ceremony at the club honoring Martin Luther King Jr. The central message was celebrating the differences among all people.
"Today we have our Muslim brothers and sisters here. The LGBTQ community. Latino community. We have everyone here. That's power. When you have diversity, that's power," Stevenson said.
The African American Club of Pasco was founded in 1990.
The club does a lot for the local community and families, including donating thousands each year in scholarships.
Around the Bay area and Florida
In a packed downtown St. Petersburg, event-goers listened to marching bands while police used different patrolling tactics after community leaders expressed concern after last year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
"I think we tried to do some things differently last year and it really didn't work for folks," said Yolanda Fernandez, a spokeswoman for St. Pete Police.
St. Pete Police planned to have a full staff of officers available to respond to incidents. They planned to have less oversight as to where people could sell items, park, and celebrate.
Parade organizer Tioriano Parker saluted this year's police presence.
"They've been great," Parker said. "You can just tell it's a whole positive attitude. More people are enjoying this like they do every other event, so they're doing an extraordinary job. I can't be more pleased with the police department's efforts."
Also in St. Petersburg, a family fun day was held at Tropicana Field. Thousands lined up in the parking lot for the event. Hands-on games were available for children, along with a bounce house, rock climbing, and fun slides.
Residents said it was a great way to celebrate the holiday and honor King while having some fun at the same time.
"I think it's great," Casey Tolson said. "It gives everyone the opportunity to come together and celebrate a very, very important day for all of us. I think this is what our community needs, and overall it's great."
The city of Tampa held an MLK Day Parade along 15th Street and 21st Avenue, ending at 21st Street and Osborne. A parade was held in Brooksville that started at Hernando High School.
And celebrations were also planned at Coachman Park in Clearwater and at Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa.
DeSantis attends Winter Park event
Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke at the Unity Heritage Festival at Shady Park at Hannibal Square in Winter Park, Florida. The annual Unity Heritage Festival celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., promotes family heritage and raises money for the Educational Fulfillment Fund to benefit local disadvantaged youth.
"It is really great to be here at the Unity Heritage Festival in Winter Park this afternoon," DeSantis said. "The principles and ideas that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us have stood the test of time and we are a far better country because of his leadership."
Spectrum Bay News 9 reporters Trevor Pettiford and Laurie Davison contributed to this story.