The parade has traditionally been held on MLK Day in January. But this year MLK Day was on Jan. 21, the same day as the presidential inauguration. Many potential Carroll County parade participants were on a bus trip to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the swearing-in of President Barack Obama for a second term.
“We moved the parade date because a lot of people wanted to be involved in the inauguration,” said Denise Parham, co-chair of the parade committee.
The parade will begin at 11 a.m. this Saturday, starting at Dairy Queen on Highway 27/South Park Street in Carrollton. Registered parade entrants are asked to be at the staging area near the Dairy Queen between 9-10 a.m. The Rev. Joe Neal will be the grand marshal.
“This year, we’re honoring all our retired pastors of Carroll County,” said Queentine Vallair, parade committee co-chair. “We have six who have already signed up and they will follow Rev. Neal at the front of the parade.”
The parade will go up Maple Street, turn onto Alabama Street, go through the downtown square, down Newnan Street and end on White Street at the Tracy Stallings Community Center.
The parade will include floats, six high school bands, church delegations, university fraternity and sorority members, motorcycles, horses and golf carts. Today is the final day for registering to march in the parade.
“We’ll be lining up the numbers today along U.S. 27 or you can call me to get your number,” she said.
Neal, 76, is a retired Methodist minister and civic leader who knew Dr. King during the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s.
“I knew his brother, A.D. King, whom I met while pastoring in Newnan,” Neal said last year during an interview with The Times-Georgian. “The King family was wonderful and Dr. King was full of love for his people.”
Neal said King had a “sweet spirit” and “wonderful personality” and was a true inspiration with his work and his philosophy.
“He was for all people, especially poor people, and not just black people, but people across racial lines,” he said. “You could tell without a doubt that he had been in touch with God. I wished it could be possible that everybody could have known him personally and feel inside who he really was. He was truly wonderful.”
Neal is on the board of directors of the Carroll County Water Authority, serves as chaplain for the fire department, sits on the zoning board for the city of Carrollton and serves on the Oncology Committee for Tanner Medical Center.
Although he retired from ministry work five years ago, Neal attends his childhood church, Moore’s Chapel United Methodist Church on North Park Street.
“I’m still quite busy although I’m retired,” he said last year. “I get to do a little preaching, still do a few weddings and still pray for folks and counsel them.”
More information about the parade is available by calling Denise Parham at 770-834-6539, or Queentine Vallair at 770-834-3271.