Residents lined the streets of Leimert Park Monday to witness the return of the Kingdom Day Parade, which is traditionally held to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day but was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, the rescheduled procession of dance teams, equestrian units, floats, community groups, drum lines, and elected leaders made its way through the neighborhood, honoring not only King but also the new federal Juneteenth holiday.
Although crowds were noticeably smaller than past parades due to the shift in timeline, the mood was still upbeat along the route, both among spectators and participants.
“This is just fabulous to be here,” Mayor Eric Garcetti told ABC7 during its broadcast of the parade. ” … L.A. was one of the first cities to declare Juneteenth, and really recognize this is a chapter that Los Angeles needs to own — to understand our Black Angelenos who have made history, slaves who fled to find their freedom here, and the way that we still have to work for equality every single day.
“It just feels great to be back out in the sun, to see the community, and to have the parade back.”
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, who is vying to replace the termed-out Garcetti in the mayor’s office, served as the parade’s grand marshal. She told Channel 7 she appreciated the diverse community the parade attracts.
“This is emblematic of our city coming together, all the different cultures,” she said. “Everybody in the world lives in L.A., and to lift up this day like many other days we will celebrate is very important.”
This year’s parade had been scheduled for Jan. 17, but was scrubbed for the second year in a row due to the pandemic. With conditions somewhat improved following the winter surge in virus cases, the parade was hastily reset for Monday, followed by the traditional post-procession festival in Leimert Park.
The parade followed its traditional 3-mile route, beginning at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue, proceeding west to Crenshaw Boulevard and then south to Vernon Avenue.
The theme of the parade was “Healing America.” The event included the traditional lineup of marching bands, equestrian units, floats, elected officials and local dignitaries. Actor Bill Duke and actress/model Judy Pace were among those taking part in the procession.