Mesa honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with an honorary street, parade and festival Monday, Jan. 16 in downtown Mesa.
Mesa and its residents will pay tribute to the leadership and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s 25th-anniversary celebration theme, “What Are You Doing For Others?” was a call to action by Dr. King.
The day of remembrance on Martin Luther King (MLK) Day, Monday, Jan.16, will begin with the dedication of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street during a ceremony at 8:30 a.m. at the Mesa Arts Center.
“The vision and legacy of Dr. King serves as an inspiration for Mesa, in our commitment to being a just, equitable and inclusive city,” said Mesa Mayor John Giles. “As part of our 25th-anniversary event, the honorary street dedication celebrates his civil rights leadership and dedication in fighting for equality for all.”
The honorary street signs will be placed along Center Street between Brown Road and First Avenue to honor Mesa’s nearby historic Washington-Escobedo Heritage Neighborhood, which had its roots during segregation in the early 20th century. The signs will also celebrate Dr. King’s accomplishments as a civil rights icon.
“The honorary street is a great way to honor Dr. King, the milestone anniversary of the city’s annual holiday recognizing his leadership, the legacy of the Washington-Escobedo neighborhood and the perseverance and accomplishments of its residents,” said Keisha McKinnor, President of the Mesa-East Valley MLK Committee.
“We are thrilled that the City of Mesa has dedicated a street in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It demonstrates our community shared value of inclusiveness to both residents and visitors alike.,” said Visit Mesa President and CEO Marc Garcia.
The Mesa-East Valley MLK Parade is from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. The new parade route will start at the Center Street and MLK Way intersection, travel south on Center Street to First Street, then travel east on First Street to Hibbert where it will end. The parade includes marching bands, faith-based and other local organizations, community leaders, elected officials, the Mesa Police Department and the Mesa Fire and Medical Department to make it a truly festive and inclusive community event.
The Mesa-East Valley MLK Festival is from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The Plaza at Mesa City Center, 56 E. Main Street. The community festival features food, vendors, entertainment and a Kids Unity Corner with activities and crafts. The festival will include a performance by a local band, The Cardinal Kids, premiering a new song “We Walk,” commissioned by Visit Mesa that is a tribute to Dr. King. Kyle Collins, who raps on the song, is a graduate of Dobson High School. It will also include a feature performance by Jesse Campbell of The Voice.
Two of our downtown museums will offer-half price admission on MLK Day. The Arizona Museum of Natural History will open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. while the i.d.e.a. Museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Residents around the parade route or those joining in on the festivities should plan for the following street closures:
6 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
First Street – Center Street to Mesa Drive
Centennial Way – Pepper Place to First Street
Pasadena – at First Street
Hibbert – Pepper Place to First Street
Hibbert – Second Street to Third Place
Wilbur – at First Street
Pomeroy – Pepper Place to First Street
8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Center Street – University Drive to Pepper Place
Third Place – Center Street to Drew Street
MLK Way – Center Street to Centennial Way
Second Street – at Center Street
Pepper Place – Center Street to Centennial Way (Plaza)
The parade route will reopen to all traffic by 2 p.m. Adjacent streets to the parade route will reopen as traffic control is removed. Traffic can detour around the parade route by using Main Street, Mesa Drive, Country Club Drive and University Drive. The festival area along Pepper Place between Center Street and Centennial Way will reopen by Jan. 17 at 8 a.m.
In support of the Mesa-East Valley Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade, the Downtown Buzz and Route 112 will not serve the stop at Main Street and Centennial Way. The Downtown Buzz will not serve Center Street between Pepper Place and University Drive from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 16. More information is available at www.valleymetro.org.
All of the MLK events are hosted and presented by the City of Mesa and the Mesa-East Valley MLK Committee and features the sponsorship of Visit Mesa and Amazon.
Mesa’s annual MLK celebrations were created after residents, in 1996, voted to establish a citywide holiday recognizing the leadership of Dr. King. For more information on the MLK celebrations, visit www.mesaaz.gov/mlkparade.