Coronavirus has radically changed Tampa Bay’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day events
The Tampa Bay area, especially St. Petersburg, typically hosts some of the largest events in the country in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But the coronavirus has prompted organizers to delay, cancel or take events virtual.
Annual events in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Plant City have been forced online or been postponed until later in the year.
St. Petersburg’s giant MLK Dream Big Parade usually draws a dozen high-stepping marching bands from high schools and universities across the county. It bills itself as the nation’s longest-running parade honoring King. This year, it will be held virtually at 11 a.m. on Jan. 18 and feature short video clips.
“Every year I look forward to participating in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade. And though each of us honors the life and legacy of Dr. King, for the safety of our citizens, we have to do things differently,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said.
Another big annual draw is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet, bringing leaders from the across the area to St. Petersburg’s Coliseum. It will also be held virtually at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Both events are free and viewing information can be found at advantagevillageacademy.com.
St. Petersburg will hold one limited capacity live event: The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dance Showcase takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sunday at the Campbell Park Sports Complex, 601 14th St. S. Performances include Diamond Prima Donna, Code Red, Impact Dance Academy and Take Over. Masks are required. Tickets are available at Advantage Village Academy, 833 22nd St. S, St Petersburg. For more information, call 727-321-7919.
Tampa usually holds multi-day celebrations with activities and parades. This year, the city’s parade is postponed, with plans to combine it with Juneteenth celebrations in the summer. It is currently scheduled to be held on June 19 at Cuscaden Park.
“While we’d all like to be together to celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, it’s incredibly important, for the safety of our residents, to remain vigilant in practicing COVID safety. We can’t wait to join together this Juneteenth for the big celebration,” said Ashley Bauman, marketing and communications director for the city of Tampa.