Hundreds of Students Walk In San Diego's MLK Day Parade

Saturday marked the 14th year of UCSD’s participation in the Martin Luther King Jr. parade.

The 22nd annual MLK parade was held from 11 a.m. until noon along Harbor Drive, ending on Pacific Highway in San Diego.

An estimated 250 members of the UCSD community, including family members of students and faculty, marched in the procession, making this the largest group UCSD has ever had in the parade. Clad in UCSD shirts with the slogan “”Freedom Through Education”” emblazoned on the back, students and faculty marched for one mile holding banners representing each college.

Members from the UCSD Medical Center, the Preuss School and the Early Academic Outreach Program marched along with Chancellor Robert Dynes, Revelle Provost Thomas Bond, and Marshall Provost Cecil Lytle in the parade.

Nikki Cayanan, Chairwoman of the MLK Jr. Campus Parade Committee, was pleased at the turnout of the event.

“”It just totally blew us away,”” Cayanan said. “”This is the biggest contingent that UCSD has ever had. It was huge. We’ve never had this many people.””

According to Cayanan, preparations for the event took about three months and cost about $5,000. Funds were allocated from various sources on campus such as the chancellor, the dean and the A.S. Council, in addition to private contributions such as those from the Princeton Review.

A portion of the funds went to advertising for the parade. Posters and banners promoted the parade starting a week before the celebration. Free transportation to the parade and a continental breakfast were provided for students and faculty.

There were also two contests held, one for the most participants out of the five colleges, and another for the most participants out of the student organizations on campus, in an effort to increase student involvement. The prize for both contests was a free pizza party paid for by Papa John’s.

Marshall college won the first contest by a wide margin with an estimated 40 students participating, followed by Revelle with 25, Muir with 24, Warren with 20 and Roosevelt with 15. The Pep Band won the second contest with 13 members in the parade, followed by the Alpha Kappa Theta fraternity with 10 members.

The Marshall College Council felt the event was significant enough to make it mandatory for all council members to attend.

“”I think it’s important that our college and community show that we still remember Martin Luther King, not only this day but [also that] the things that he did still have effect on us,”” said Vice Chair of the Marshall Council Michelle Law.

Other Council members agreed and wanted to celebrate diversity, which is a main focus of Marshall college.

“”It’s just a time to celebrate how far our country has come in terms of diversity and appreciating other cultures,”” said Chair of the Marshall Council Emiko Burchill.

The lively atmosphere of the parade is another reason for some to participate.

“”I really like the energy here,”” said Jill Donofrio, a member of Leaders of the 21st Century at Revelle. “”Everyone’s happy and cheerful and excited. It makes you want to be the same way.””

Other participants who were alive to witness King’s efforts wanted to support the memory of his struggle.

“”I grew up in the 60’s, so I remember vividly the freedom marches,”” Dynes said. “”I remember Martin Luther King and what he did.””

For some faculty members, marching in the parade is an annual tradition.

“”I’ve marched in this parade every year,”” Bond said. “”I think it’s a lot of fun. It’s a chance for UCSD to see San Diego and for San Diego to see UCSD. It was a beautiful day and Martin Luther King is one of my heroes.””

For others, the parade was also a chance to spend time with their families and feel a sense of unity in the community.

“”I’ve been with the university for 13 years and I think I’ve only missed two parades,”” said Yvonne Reid-Hairston, who works in the chancellor’s office. “”It’s like an annual tradition for us and usually I bring my two daughters. I just like to see the unity that this event brings to the campus and to the city. We need to have more days like this.””

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