LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It was a packed house in downtown Lake Charles as supporters covered the streets to honor Martin Luther King Jr. on his day.
"He was a great man," said a local attendee. "He was an inspiration."
"It's something I can remember," said Mary Bellard, who showed her support by wearing a special Martin Luther King, Jr. shirt. "It shows us where we come from to where we are now."
This year's Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration included a variety of events hosted by the MLK coalition, including the parade, as well as memorial services and concerts. This year's theme was "Southwest Louisiana: The Dream, The Future and Me."
For Gary Trahan, assistant principal of Fondel Elementary, seeing the crowd is what gives this holiday meaning.
"It's very important for our kids to really know the life and legacy of Dr. King," said Trahan. "All the people that turn out each and every year... it's an excellent showing of the family still thinking it's very important for us to be able to come out here and participate."
For Brenda Nash, who took her two sons to the parade, she says it was the best part.
"It was fun," said Nash. "They enjoyed the candy, the bands. My baby was just dancing to everything. We had fun, we enjoyed it."
After the parade, it was time for some more family fun. The parade was followed a family day celebration at the Civic Center featuring games for the kids and lots of music to dance to. The event also featured a cook-off where 10 teams competed for the best tasting gumbo.
Many like Trahan say they look forward to the event for years to come.
"We just want our kids to grow up and to continue the tradition," said Trahan.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. festival has been chosen as a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society for the first quarter of 2014.