Black History Parade features bands, grand marshal
By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on February 16, 2014 1:50 AM
For Vicky Darden and Sheila Oates, it has been five years of running around behind the scenes to make sure the Black History Parade goes off without a hitch. This year, they come with the experience to make the sixth annual Mount Olive Black History Parade even more extravagant.
The parade, which will be held this year on Feb. 22, originally began in 2007 with a conversation between Mrs. Oates and her daughter Toreisha Faison about the lack of local events celebrating Black History Month. Mrs. Oates told her aunt, Vicky Darden, and the two took it upon themselves to get something started.
With the help of then-Mount Olive commissioner Ora Truzy, the first Black History Parade marched down the streets for the first time in 2008.
Years later, spectators come from as far as New Jersey, Georgia and Washington, D.C., to Mount Olive to celebrate black heritage.
Nanny Barfield, the owner of Garris Funeral Home in Mount Olive, will be this year's grand marshal.
"She's always helping people and always doing something for other people. When someone passes, she always helps the family out," Mrs. Darden said.
"I told her, 'It's time for you to come on up.'"
Garris Funeral Home, founded in 1929, is the oldest business founded by a black person in Wayne County, Mrs. Barfield said.
The other marshals for the parade will be Dr. Marvin S. McCoy, assistant superintendent for human resources at Wayne County Public Schools; Robyn Wade, editor of The Gospel of Wayne County; and Goldsboro Mayor Al King.
"We always try to get someone in the community that is doing things," Mrs. Darden said.
This year's parade will feature a few new events.
The parade will be led by the Second Marine Division marching band out of Camp Lejuene playing the national anthem. The Rev. Timothy Dorch, pastor at Eastern Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, will then recite the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
The parade will also feature a few Wayne County marching bands spread throughout the parade and backed by a few guest bands being brought in from Fayetteville and Raleigh. Minor performances by each band will be at two staging areas located at the Piggly Wiggly on North Breazeale Avenue and close to the Lighthouse Restaurant on the south end of the parade route.
Besides the bands, the parade will be comprised of motorcycle clubs, horse riders, car shows, clowns and floats parading down Breazeale Avenue.
This year's parade will also take on a slight festival atmosphere. Last year, a few food vendors were available near the parade's endpoint close to the Carver Cultural Center. This year, Mrs. Darden is asking both food and commercial vendors to set up close to the Piggly Wiggly on the north end of Breazeale Avenue and from Pollock Street to Short Street on the south end of Breazeale Avenue.
To apply, food vendors must be approved by the Wayne County Health Department and have written permission from a property owner to set up during the parade. They also must have a fire extinguisher and sign a waiver from the Mount Olive inspections department.
Merchandise vendors also must have written permission from a property owner and from the town inspections department to set up during the parade.
All vendors should have approval documents with them during the parade.
This year, Mrs. Darden is also trying to bring in 100 Men in Black and White marchers. Any man who wishes to participate needs a suit and should call Travis Barden at 919-344-6999.
The parade will start at the north end of Breazeale Avenue and finish at the Carver Cultural Center.
Lineup begins at the intersection of North Breazeale Avenue and Henderson Street at 11:30 a.m. The actual parade begins at 1 p.m. A rain date has been set for March 1.
For more information, call Mrs. Darden at 919-658-3961 or Mrs. Oates at 919-635-3376.
"We're hoping the weather is great and asking everyone to bring lawn chairs, so they can come out and celebrate Martin Luther King's dream," Mrs. Oates said.