By Tony Parra
The Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Parade ended as quickly as it started Saturday as the parade slipped through the rain-soaked downtown area in just under 20 minutes.
The parade suffered a low turnout in the downtown area, where a woman and her 4-year-old daughter were the only spectators, not including the policemen assigned to block off traffic.
“We came down so Jessica (4-year old daughter) could see her grandfather’s sister in the parade,” said Dana Deiester, a Kansas City, Mo., resident who used to live in Portales. “She is in the oldest jeep in the parade, a ‘47 red jeep from the jeep club. Jessica loved it. She got all of the candy because there wasn’t anybody else she was competing against.
“It was like her own personal parade.”
The weather not only put a damper on spectator attendance, but also on parade participants.
“I had people calling me at 7 a.m. to find out if we were still going to have the parade,” said Veda Urioste, Cultural Affairs member and parade organizer. “Neither rain nor snow could keep us from having the parade. We were supposed to have more marchers. I am glad to see the people came out to participate in the parade and watch the parade despite the weather.”
Parade participants were able to brave the cold and march down 2nd Street to the Memorial Building. Members from the Portales Recreation Center — such as Johnny Ledbetter, Bill Parson and Kayla Stevens — participated in the parade as they rode in three vehicles.
“It was freezing cold,” Della Jaramillo of the Junior Chamber of Commerce said. “But it was fun and it was for a good cause.”
The other three members of the JCOC — Julie Anna Jaramillo, Amber Lie Puebla and Tyson Johnson — were involved in putting together a float titled “There’s No Backseat in JCOC,” a reference to Rosa Parks.
The forecast from the National Weather Service for Saturday predicted occasional snow, wind and cooler temperatures. The forecast for Saturday morning called for snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches. Saturday morning’s highs were projected to be steady in the lower 30s. North winds were in the 20s with gusts up to 32 miles per hour.
But despite the frigid and wet atmosphere, King was remembered for his passion for change — at least by the few who attended.
“This day is to remember a person who changed the world,” Puebla said. “A person with a dream and a purpose in life.”