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40th annual parade celebrates Martin Luther King Day

Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in downtown Las Vegas was more than just a festive occasion with music, confetti or dancers for Sham’Bre Golsten and her five children: It was a teaching moment in Black history, she said.

So when she would spot the portrait of a historic figure on a float, poster or T-shirt, she would turn to her kids to explain who it was and how that person had blazed the trail for them, she said.

“I need them to know that Dr. King — his dream — isn’t dead,” she said. “We’re still going to be living it so that they can be the ones to do good in the community and the world.”

Golsten said she grew up attending the Las Vegas parade, even participating in it, but that it was only her second time taking her children, ages 7 to 12.

Their grandmother Tracey Bingham tagged along.

“We’re having a good time,” she said enthusiastically.

The family stood among hundreds of jovial spectators who dotted Fourth Street for the 40th annual parade commemorating the civil rights icon.

The theme of this year’s event was “Living the Dream: Setting New Standards.” About 90 groups participated to much fanfare.

Crews in fire engines tossed plastic replicas of firefighter helmets and police passed out toy badges.

Kathy Lighten and her sister Regina Wilson clapped and swayed to classic soul tunes that blared from the floats.

Lighten said she began attending the event more than 18 years ago, bringing her grandchildren, and more recently her great-grandchildren.

“It’s a very special day to me,” she said, adding that although she was a little girl when King-led marches were occurring, she has studied their history.

And besides, they almost share a birthday, she said, noting that hers was Sunday.

Lighten wants King’s legacy “to keep the world a better place, make it peaceful, you know,” she said.

“We are all one, we are all we’ve got, and then God, of course,” she added.

“Amen,” her sister interjected.

A Metropolitan Police officer chatted with a trio of young children, who waved and yelled “we like police” at cruising officers, noting that their SUVs resembled “marshmallows.”

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and former mayor Oscar Goodman rolled by in a hot pink classic Cadillac convertible with a large portrait of King resting on its windshield.

Other Nevada officials who participated included Attorney General Aaron Ford, Gov. Steve Sisolak, and U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen.

Mydrea Jackson, who showed up with her sister and three nieces, said it was her first year attending the parade.

“It’s a momentum of freedom,” she said.

For her, diversity in the crowd signified a shift in the right direction.

“He wanted everyone to be treated equal, so that’s what it is,” she said about King. “It’s a mixture of everybody, so we’re just here having a good time.”

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.

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