The people of Baltimore came out in droves to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade.

A woman on stilts waves to the crowd during the 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. (Photo by Briahnna Brown)

The procession marched down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from Eutaw Street to Baltimore Street. Many in attendance said they were thankful that it was not as cold as it was during last year’s celebration.

The crowd cheered and waved for Mayor Catherine Pugh, who was at the front of the procession, and State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. The parade’s grand marshal this year was Baltimore native singer/songwriter Brave Williams, known for her appearances on “Making The Band” and “R&B Divas L.A.”

Spectators danced along with the many marching bands and cheerleaders from Dunbar High School, Carver Vocational-Technical High School, the New Edition Legacy Marching Band, Citywide GoldStarz Marching Band and Gwynn Park High School among others.

Representatives from Baltimore chapters of Black fraternities and sororities also marched in the parade, and many local organizations like The Baltimore Ethical Society and the Greater Baltimore Urban League were among the parade’s participants. Many in the parade carried slogans for peace which King famously called for during his life of activism.

Singer/songwriter Brave Williams, this year’s grand marshal, waves to spectators at the 17th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. (Photo by Briahnna Brown)

“There’s a lot of discourse in the world, I think more than ever we have to remember Dr. King’s message of peace and for people coming together,” Tracy Baskerville, a parade official, said. “I think today is a great day to celebrate that.”

Christine Jones, 56, and her husband Larry Jones, 67, said that they love coming to the parade together and have been for years. They said that as an interracial couple, they love King and his stance on racial equality.

“We come out here to honor Dr. Martin Luther King because of what he stood for,” Christine Jones said. “Black people, White people, green people, purple people, it doesn’t matter. I like to see us all out here together, celebrating Martin Luther King.”

“I remember the march on D.C., I remember his speech and everything,” Larry Jones said. “I really loved what he was trying to do, and what he was standing for, and still to this day, 2017, is strong as ever.”

Sylvia Gray, 66, said she has been coming to the parade every year for as long as she can remember, and has been following King’s message since she saw him in Baltimore in the late 1960s.

“This is what it’s all about, us getting together, stop trying to go backwards and continue to go forwards,” Gray said. “This is what I want to do and I want our people to do.”

Helena Wise, 55, said she’s been coming to the parade her entire adult life and traditionally goes by herself, no matter how cold. She said she considers attending the parade an honor.

“That a man stood up for our equal rights, so we can have equal rights,” Wise said. “We need coming together, we need peace, we need blessings. Without that what do you have?”