01/16/13 — Prep for Mount Olive Black History Parade under way

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Prep for Mount Olive Black History Parade under way

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on January 16, 2013 1:46 PM

Messenger Staff Writer

Vicky Darden, vice president of the Unity Organization, is having problems with her phone.

"They already started calling and blowing the phone up," she said.

Ms. Darden is in no danger, except from maybe a headache or two, and the "they" she's talking about refers to people interested in the Unity Organization's fifth annual event slated for Saturday, Feb. 23, the Black History Month Parade.

"(The parade) is really expanding," she said.

In a mere five years, a simple idea has evolved into a downtown Mount Olive parade that draws more than 8,000 people to celebrate black history and culture.

The idea burst into being during a conversation between Sheila Oates and her daughter Toreisha Faison in 2007. Next, the idea moved to Mrs. Oates' aunt, Vicky Darden, and those three brought it to town officials who embraced it.

After a lot of fundraising to pay for the steep insurance costs and a lot of behind-the-scenes work by then-town commissioner Ora Truzy, the idea finally took solid form with the first parade in 2008.

"And then it was on. At the end of the day, God helped work it out," Ms. Darden said. "Thank God for He has been awesome. I couldn't do it without Him."

The second parade celebrated President Obama's election with a plane flying overhead towing a "Yes We Can" banner.

"People were crying. It was exciting to see something like that in the air," Ms. Darden said.

And now, five years after the original idea, the people who take part and attend the parade number in the thousands.

The 2013 Black History Month Parade will be held Saturday, Feb. 23, and will meander through town starting at Mount Olive College and ending at the Carver Cultural Center. The parade will feature clowns, marching bands, antique cars, motorcycles, horses, floats and much more.

Vendors will also be selling food such as funnel cakes, turkey legs, hot dogs and Bojangles chicken at the Carver Cultural Center.

As for anything big and new, "we always try to bring something new in -- but we want to surprise them," Ms. Darden said.

As planning continues, the Unity Organization, the nonprofit specifically started to get the parade up and running, is still looking for donors, volunteers and anyone interested in taking part in the parade. Volunteers and donors can contact Vicky Darden at 919-658-3961 or Sheila Oates at 919-635-3376.

Applications for taking part in the parade are located at LA Barber Styles and DC Kutz in Mount Olive and at the Wayne County Public Library in Goldsboro. Finished applications can be sent to 237 Franklin St. in Mount Olive. Applications are due by Saturday.

Line-up for entries begins at 11:30 a.m. at the intersection of North Breazeale Avenue and Henderson Street. The actual parade begins at 1 p.m.

"It's a celebration," Ms. Darden said. "We want everyone to come out and eat food -- just to have a good time."