“Living the Dream: Leading During Challenging Times” is the theme when Lafayette kicks off its three-day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. festivities, which serve as the flagship celebration of the eight-parish region.

Events begin with a musical extravaganza at 1 p.m. Saturday. The event at the MLK Recreation Center, will be followed by the Martin Luther King Youth Pageant at 4 p.m.

Former Lafayette Parish School Board President Raphael A. Baranco will serve as parade marshal when the King Holiday Parade kicks off at 3 p.m. Sunday. Lineup will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the MLK Recreation Center.

On Monday, festivities continue with a flag-raising ceremony at 8:30 a.m. at the MLK Recreation Center. It will be followed by a prayer breakfast at 8:45 a.m.

Also scheduled at the center, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will be education and cultural activities for youth and adults. During the same time, there will be health screenings, booths and exhibitions as well.

The Sponsors Recognition/Community Luncheon is slated for 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

An Evening Commemorative Program, at 6 p.m. at the MLK Recreation Center will feature Congressman Cedric Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

EUNICE

Eunice will continue its expanded three-day MLK celebration, which was scheduled to kick off Friday with a scheduled Sow A Seed Dinner/Social Hour to raise scholarship funds for high school graduates.

Saturday’s agenda includes the 5th Annual MLK Prayer Breakfast, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Dr. Joshua G. Frank Life Center, located at the New Zion Baptist Church. The guest speaker will be Caleb Semien from Word Ministries of Eunice. Following the breakfast will be “Build Me A Son,” a leadership workshop for boys and men, ages 3-21. Then later at 4 p.m., there will be a program for senior citizens.

On Sunday, MLK festivities continue with a parade at 2 p.m. that will culminate at the New Zion Baptist Church. Parade lineup will begin at 1:30 p.m. Following the parade, a program will be held at the church’s Dr. Joshua G. Frank Life Center. Guest speaker will be Eunice native Michael Victorian, who served as the immediate past president of the 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge.

A highlight of the tri-parish city’s 32nd King celebration will be honoring former Eunice Alderman Johnny G. Anderson, who will also be the MLK Award honoree. Ardessie Francois, who has helped with past programs, said Anderson was responsible for Eunice’s King holiday celebration.

The Eunice native was the one “who initiated the whole idea of honoring” King, according to Francois.

LOREAUVILLE

“Love is in Need of Love Today” is the theme of Loreauville’s 35th Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Annual March, which kicks off at 10 a.m. Monday at Loreauville Park. The march will head down Main Street to Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, where a program follows.

Founder Joyce Sorrell said she based the theme on an old Stevie Wonder song, “Love’s in Need of Love Today” because of existing turmoil.

Sorrell said that there is no doubt individuals love one another, but they must also learn to respect, honor, communicate and pray for one another as well.

As part of the MLK church program, Sorrell plans to present a skit on the theme to bring awareness to such concerns. And she invites the community to participate.

“Anybody who thinks they have a word to fit this theme” is welcomed to join in the celebration, Sorrell added.

NEW IBERIA

A prayer breakfast at 9 a.m. Monday at St. Edward’s School cafeteria, kicks off the King celebration in New Iberia. The breakfast is sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s New Iberia chapter and the St. Edward’s Catholic Church.

Also on tap Monday is a 1 p.m. program at the MLK Recreational Center. The guest speaker is St. Landry Parish attorney Charles Cravins. The program, which theme is “The Children Are Our Focus”, includes church choirs, liturgical dancing, singing and the Color Guard. A voter registration drive will also be held.

“We hope everyone comes out and enjoys themselves,” said Geri Brown, president of the New Iberia NAACP, which is sponsoring the afternoon event with support from the community.

OPELOUSAS

Opelousas celebrates its 36th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Memorium, beginning with a 1 p.m. parade through the streets of Opelousas, which will end at the Holy Ghost Catholic Church’s Life Center where a program will commence. Elijah Malone will serve as parade marshal.

Founder Rebecca D. Henry said the parade will include the J.S. Clark School and Opelousas High School marching bands, as well as dance groups. Henry said churches, school groups, and civic organizations are invited to participate. Parade lineup is set for 11 a.m.

Opelousas native Victor Lewis, principal of the J.S. Clark Leadership Academy, will share views on the meaning of the King holiday. Also during the event, the Annual Dr. King Service Award will be presented. Also on tap are choir performances and inspirational messages.

Henry said it is important to teach the history of King so that his dream lives on.

“By teaching his philosophy on equal rights, that dream can live forever along with his legacy,” Henry said.

RAYNE

“Remaining Awake through the Great Dream” is the theme for Rayne’s MLK festivities, which celebrates, educates and recognizes “the dreams of our leaders and youth in this community, as well as a great American hero,” said Hilda Wiltz, Dr. MLK Citywide Committee Chairperson.

Festivities kick off at 8:30 a.m. Monday with an MLK Depot Program, followed by a march to the Rayne Civic Center. A Health and Informational Fair, featuring screenings beginning at 9 a.m., will be held at the center. The main program kicks off at 11 a.m., and features Jarvis Forman, who serves as a state parole officer, as guest speaker. Also scheduled are musical selections, an essay, and an award presentation.

The local celebration is sponsored by the National Association of University Women’s Rayne Branch.