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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Waikiki parade an eclectic, joyous affair

 •  Photo gallery: Martin Luther King Jr. parade

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Hawaii Chapter march along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki during the 18th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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The spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. found a raucous, joyous voice yesterday on the streets of Waikiki.

The annual parade honoring his life and deeds, now in its 18th year, was an eclectic array of opinions, religious beliefs and multicultural displays of personal freedom that drew several thousand people.

It was a morning stroll with a message, a peace rally with marching military units. It was rumbling Harley-Davidsons, skipping Hare Krishnas, union workers and a Baptist church group clapping their hands to a spiritual.

"I feel pride," said a beaming Bridgett Terry, who sat on the curb along Kalakaua Avenue with her children and her friends.

"It's good to see so many multicultural people here to enjoy this special day," she said. "It's not just for us African-Americans. It's for all people. Just because we look different on the outside doesn't mean we aren't the same on the inside."

This year's parade featured 80 marching units led by a city bus a tribute to the late Rosa Parks and the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott.

It could easily be the only parade in the country where an Army contingent the Tropic Lightning Band from Schofield Barracks can march between a pair of groups with an anti-war message, one of them a group of women dressed in bright pink clothing, the other Hawai'i Democrats with signs that read: "Dr. King would oppose the war in Iraq" and "Peace Now Out of Iraq."

And all of them were being videotaped by a guy on inline skates dressed in a bright orange malo, with ti leaves and a cell phone tucked in at the waist.

Anthony Marlin, a 47-year-old Chinatown resident and Hawai'i Pacific University graduate student, has come to the parade every year for several years. Yesterday, he wore a black T-shirt with King's face printed on it and the words: "And we shall overcome."

His reasons for being there were like those of so many around him.

"It's just to show my support for the man and my appreciation," Marlin said. "Without the struggles that went before me, I wouldn't be able to see a parade like this. I have a lot of freedoms."

The parade began at Magic Island and finished at Kapi'olani Park, where a unity rally filled the rest of the day. In a way, it was as if the parade had not ended, replaced by mingling aromas of multiethnic food: musubi bentos, fried noodles, sizzling Polish sausage, catfish and ribs.

Gladys Singleton was there, dressed in a brilliant yellow caftan and oversized sunglasses. Genuinely thrilled by the diversity of the crowd around her, the operating room nurse from Makaha wanted everyone to remember King's passion for peace.

"He was a nonviolent man," she said. "He accomplished everything through peace."

Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com.