MLK Day honored despite cold

By Ed Brock

It will have to be a very cold day indeed before Anthony Dixon Sr. misses the Martin Luther King Day parade in Jonesboro.

Dixon, 51, of Rex endured Monday's chilling winds that kept temperatures under 40 degrees to watch the parade roll through the county seat.

"I come every year," Dixon said. "It's worth it, even in the cold, to come out."

For Iris Hudson and her 3-year-old son Maurice, both of College Park, Monday was their first time at the parade. Hudson's 9-year-old son Mychal was in the parade along with his fellow Boy Scouts in Troop 963 of Riverdale.

"It was great," Hudson said. "I'm usually at work."

This was the sixth year for the parade that is sponsored by the Masons of Elijah Summit Lodge No. 309 and the Eastern Stars of Electra Special No. 109, and it's grown, said Herman Turner, Worshipful Master of Elijah Summit.

"Despite the cold weather everybody came to see us," Turner said. "We look forward to it growing even more in the future."

Decorated cars and some floats followed flag-waving cheerleaders and high school marching bands down Main Street to Smith Street and ending near Lee Street Park. In prior years there was a ceremony and speeches held in the parking lot of the park, but that wasn't part of the program this year.

Jonesboro City Councilman Wallace Norrington was enjoying the scene.

"I'm always excited to see so many people here in Jonesboro," Norrington said.

In a less formal celebration of the day, the Southlake Kiwanis Club held its third annual "Freedom Run" on Monday. The run is held to benefit the fund for providing a scholarship to Clayton College & State University to a disadvantaged young person from the area, but its name comes from the day on which it is held.

"Students to whom (King) was trying to give freedom and equality are the ones who will benefit," said the Rev. Kent Ross, club member and an event planner for the race.

About 130 runners came out for the 10K and 5K run around the CCSU campus in Morrow, including 10-year-old Cody Dorsey of Rex who was running his first major race.

"It was cold the whole way," said Dorsey.

Dorsey's father Rico Dorsey, 38, did not run.

"I watched him," Rico Dorsey said.

The cold was certainly not Joe McLaughlin's favorite part of the race. A "consistent" runner, 74-year-old McLaughlin of Marietta was running the "Freedom Run" for the first time.

"It was a good course, terrible weather," McLaughlin said.