For nearly two decades each January, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthday Celebration has become a can’t-miss tradition for thousands of Reston residents each year.
On Jan. 16, the 19th annual installment kicks off its three-day event to allow visitors a chance to reflect on the historical significance and legacy of the slain civil rights leader, organizers say. This year’s celebration will take place on Friday, Jan. 16, Sunday, Jan. 18, and Monday, Jan. 19 and all activities are free and open to the public.
Just as it has in previous years and every year since its inception in 1986, the 2004 King Day celebration in Reston will not only honor the occasion of King's birth and his legacy, but, according to organizers, also serve as a day of remembrance, commitment, and re-commitment to the causes and ideals to which King aspired.
Longtime Restonian Rodney Scott is one of the founding members of Reston’s King Day event and he says he is “amazed” at how the event has grown and flourished in Reston. “It’s a total success,” Scott said.
While the first celebration in 1986 was celebrated in Martin Luther King, Jr. Christian Church, this year’s event will be spread across four separate venues and three days to accommodate the continued growth. Looking back, Scott said there was no way of knowing how big Reston or the this event would get over the years. “It’s phenomenal. It’s really become something that the entire community feels a part of,” Scott said. “It shows our community’s strength and ideals because everybody — a real cross section of Reston — really feels included.”
From diverse cultural presentations to a career workshop to the commemorative march, Liz Milner of the Reston Community Center said there is a little something for everyone at this year’s event.
Former tennis great Zina Garrison will be the featured speaker on Monday afternoon at South Lakes High School. Since retiring from tennis, Garrison has created a foundation in her native-Houston, Texas, to help expose inner city youth to the sport of tennis. The Zina Garrison All Court Tennis Program provides free, year-round tennis curriculum and character development.
The King Day event is co-sponsored by a variety of religious communities, civic organizations, business groups, schools, and the Reston Community Center. For more information on the Reston event, visit the King Day Web site at www.kingday.org.