What you need to know before MLK Jr. Day Parade in downtown Savannah

Monday's parade route, no-parking zones, road closures, official parade lineup and more

A longtime city tradition will be renewed Monday, Jan. 15, with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade taking place in downtown Savannah for its 44th annual celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The parade starts at 10am at the intersection of East Broad Street and Liberty Street. It concludes at West Anderson and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. After heading north, down E. Broad St., the parade turns west onto Broughton St. before shifting south onto MLK Jr. Blvd., where the final stretch concludes at W. Anderson Street.

The staging area (MLK Jr. Blvd. from West Gwinnett to Gaston Street) closes at 6am and the entirety of the route closes at 9am. Vehicles will not be allowed in those areas after roads close. The table below outlines when and where these closures will happen.

click to enlarge What you need to know before MLK Jr. Day Parade in downtown Savannah

Monday would have been King's 95th birthday. It's also the two-year anniversary of King's monument unveiling in Savannah's Plant Riverside District.

More than half a century after his death, groups like the
Observance Day Association help carry on his legacy. The 501(c)3 non-profit with an office appropriately located on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., the organization does much more than run the parade.

helps fund multiple nonprofit organizations around the city, including West Broad Street YMCA, Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum and Georgia Legal Aid. Scholarship contests, fundraising concerts, charity galas, worship events and community workshops are all aimed at pursuing ideals like tolerance, peace and unity.

These ideals of harmony and collaboration are the things King worked his entire life for. They were the dreams that he gave his life for.

The 2024 theme (uniquely chosen for each parade) is "Dr. King's Legacy: Peace, Liberty, and Justice." The winning submission came from New Hampstead K-8 student Jeremiah Barrett who was selected as the winner alongside his schoolmate and theme runner-up Sophia Sokolova and third place finisher Kadin Shaw (Woodville-Tompkins).

Barrett is walking in the parade as the 74th of 279 "units" listed in the official lineup provided to
Connect Savannah by the Observance Day Association. Sokolova (unit 75 in lineup) and Shaw (76) are right behind Barrett. Mercedes Wright Arnold (30) and Ronald Booker (41) are Parade Co-Marshals this year.

What you need to know before MLK Jr. Day Parade in downtown Savannah
Ronald Booker
Booker is a legendary Beach High School basketball coach and educator. In 34 years on the sideline, he amassed a record of 786-190 and guided his Lady Bulldogs to the 1999-2000 GHSA state championship. He was later inducted into the Greater Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame after retiring in 2013.

Arnold is a fierce advocate for civil rights, becoming one of the lone female leaders in the Savannah chapter of the NAACP
What you need to know before MLK Jr. Day Parade in downtown Savannah
Mercedes Wright Arnold.
 while working alongside historic names like W.W. Law and Hosea Williams. She also helped in the 1968 presidential campaign for Lyndon B. Johnson, later serving in a similar role during the 2014 Barack Obama campaign.

The parade begins with a special unit as the 3rd Infantry Division Color Guard hits the pavement first as No. 1 in the lineup. Nicknamed "Rock of the Marne" or simply "3rd ID," the United States Army division is based out of Fort Stewart.

Local high schools are a big part of the parade again this year. Marching bands, JROTC units and cheer squads are annual staples.

A few of the lineup spots include: Johnson band (37), Groves JROTC (45), Jenkins band (59), Benedictine JROTC (73), Windsor Forest band (84), Jenkins JROTC (109), New Hampstead band (116), Windsor Forest cheer and dance (134), Islands band (147), New Hampstead JROTC (152), Windsor Forest JROTC (194), Savannah High band (224), Savannah High JROTC (266) and the Groves band (269).

Other notable lineup spots include the Savannah Youth Council (10), Frank Callen Boys and Girls Club (25, 26), Tybee Island Police (105, 106, 107), W. Broad Street YMCA (124), Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia (198), Savannah City Council (234) and the Savannah State University NROTC (241).

Travis Jaudon

Travis Jaudon is a reporter for Connect Savannah. He is a Savannah native and has been writing in Savannah since 2016. Reach him with feedback or story tips at 912-721-4358
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