For the 30th year, the MLK Coastwide Celebration's events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will culminate with today's marching parade and the ever-popular Battle of the Bands.
The marching parade, coined as a "marade" by the MLK Coastwide Celebration Committee, will begin at 11 a.m. at the Frank Gruich Center on Howard Avenue in Biloxi. The route will head west on Howard Avenue, parade down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and continue west on Howard Avenue before entering MGM Park's entrance past Caillavet Street.
Instead of performing at Milner Stadium in Gulfport, as was the norm in years past, this year's Battle of the Bands will at MGM Park in Biloxi, the parade's final destination. The new location will offer more space for both spectators and performers.
The event will feature the Alcorn State University Sounds Of Dyn-O-mite marching band.
Everson Martin, assistant band director, said, "The university's band and staff always look forward to the MLK Coastwide Celebration's Battle of the Bands, but I think it was time for a venue change, and I think we'll have a pretty good turnout this year when we perform at MGM Park."
Alcorn's band boasts 225 members, including its Golden Girls dance troupe and four drum majors. All 225 performers will participate in today's festivities. Though ASU has been featured during the MLK celebration for the last several years, Martin said,
"There are usually a total of three collegiate bands and around a dozen high school bands that join the event."
Fans of marching bands' traditional formations, dancing and the classic sounds of brass, woodwind and percussion instruments won't want to miss this annually anticipated competition.
ASU's students and employees commute almost four hours for the event each year, but Martin said it's worth the trip every time.
"We're looking forward to participating again this year because it's always good to perform in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but we also enjoy meeting potential students since we treat the performance as a recruitment opportunity," he added.
Battle of the Bands at MGM Park will follow today's parade. Admission is $1.