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Amid pandemic, Ocala takes a different approach to MLK celebration

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Ocala’s Martin Luther King Day march has been transformed this year — because of COVID-19 — into a food caravan to help those in need.

Hundreds of people usually gather to parade down West Silver Springs Boulevard, and that raised pandemic concerns.

The Rev. Eric Cummings of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church suggested the food drive.

“We knew that because of covid we did not want to have a big superspreader event,” he said.

So churches, the MLK committee and sororities and fraternities are asking people to load their cars with non-perishable food and line up beginning 9 a.m. Monday at the Ocala Theological Seminary, 1105 NW Fourth St.

They’ll leave at 10 for Interfaith Emergency Services.

“Martin Luther King Day should not be about a barbecue or a cookout,” Cummings said. “It should be a day on and not a day off. And when I say a day on — a day on of service.”

He hopes the MLK Food Caravan can be part of Ocala’s celebration for years to come.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.