Torii Hunter, Pine Bluff native and retired major league baseball player, will be a keynote speaker and the 33rd grand parade marshal for the Original KingFest at Pine Bluff.


Sponsored by Interested Citizens for Voter Registration Inc., KingFest honors the legacy of the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through interracial cooperation and community service, a spokesman said.


Hunter will speak at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15, during the Justice Sunday Program at First Assembly of God Church, 1002 Ridgway Road. He will lead the KingFest Marade/Parade at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, beginning at the Jefferson County Courthouse.


“The Original KingFest executive committee selected Mr. Hunter for speaker and the MLK grand marade/parade marshal because he has demonstrated his concern for youngsters and their academic success, but more importantly, his involvement in and dedication to improving the well-being of others through service, which exemplifies the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” the Rev. Jesse C. Turner, ICVR executive director, said in a news release.


Mayor-elect Shirley M. Washington will kick off the KingFest activities and the 50th anniversary of ICVR at a joint meeting of Pine Bluff Rotary Clubs at noon Tuesday, Jan. 10. There is no charge to participate in any of the KingFest events which are open to the public. All marade/parade participants are asked to fill out applications which can be obtained by contacting Mary Liddell at 870-643-2383.


The marade will start at 2 p.m. Jan. 16. Participants are asked to line up at the courthouse at 1 p.m. The parade/marade route will proceed south on Main Street to Third Avenue and east on Third Avenue to Convention Center Drive, south on Convention Center Drive ending inside the Pine Bluff Convention Center where the ICVR King Team Pen or Pencil youth will present a short educational program. Other youth may present talents by calling the ICVR office, 870-413-6345 to be placed on the agenda.


The KingFest theme is “Living the Dream-Reviving the Spirit for Mentoring” and participants are asked to use the them to display messages on floats, cars, church buses, banners, and signs. Awards will be given for the most provocative banner, poster or float.


Organizations, businesses and elected officials are invited to join the KingFest marade/parade which honors King’s legacy. The deadline for applications is Thursday, Jan. 12. Applications can be filled out at the ICVR office at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Services Building, 211 W. Third Avenue, Suite 109. Also upon request, applications will be faxed or emailed by calling 870-413-6345 or pbicvr@aol.com.


KingFest Schedule


Tuesday, Jan. 10, Noon – ICVR and Pine Bluff Rotary Clubs will host the kickoff at the Pine Bluff Country Club where Mayor-Elect Shirley M. Washington will speak.


Wednesday, Jan. 11 – Student Pledge against Gun Violence Day at Pine Bluff Schools.


Thursday, Jan. 12 – ICVR Pen or Pencil MLK Birthday Bash, Robert Morehead Middle School; speaker: Brianna Allen.


Friday, Jan. 13, 6:30 p.m. – KingFest Youth/Adult Gospel Extravaganza, First Missionary Baptist Church, 4500 Faucett Road.


Saturday, Jan. 14 – KingFest Youth/Adult Citywide Service Day, Pen or Pencil King Team Youth-led Community Service Projects. (Youth leaders call 425-785-4960 if you are interested in participating or have questions.)


Sunday, Jan. 15, 6 p.m. – Justice Sunday Program, First Assembly of God Church; Keynote Speaker: Torii Hunter.


Monday, Jan. 16, 2 p.m. – Kingfest Marade (Parade/March); lineup at 1 p.m.m Jefferson County Courthouse; Grand Parade Marshal – Torii Hunter; Second Annual MLK/Lorenzo Smith Battle of the Bands.