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CRENSHAW : King Parade Now Planned for April 23

January 23, 1994|ERIN J. AUBRY

Poised to launch an event a year in the making, Larry E. Grant found his Kingdom Day Parade--as well as the entire Martin Luther King Jr. holiday--violently displaced by the 6.6-magnitude Northridge earthquake.

The parade honoring the late civil rights leader was shut down before it even began, in the wee hours of Jan. 17, the official observance of King's birthday, by the largest earthquake in modern Los Angeles history.

"Under the circumstances, we had to cancel," said Grant, the 68-year-old retired banker who has privately sponsored the parade for nine years. "The 287 police personnel and 200 transportation workers we expected to be working with us obviously had to be utilized for emergency purposes."

Grant, the parade committee and city officials have rescheduled the event for April 23.

Grant not only had to return 550 traffic-controlling wooden horses to the city, but also had to send several real ones back home. The Buffalo Soldiers equestrian unit, eight of the parade's 8,000 participants, had to make tracks back to Tucson, Ariz. The majority of the parade's 166 entries, which were overwhelmingly local, were told not to report to Crenshaw and King boulevards, the parade's starting point.

Parade committee chairman Celes King said that aside from the obvious dangers resulting from the quake, not having enough public safety personnel on hand posed too great a risk. "Our first thought was for the youngsters, and the second thought was for the city itself," he said. "There was no way to predict the disruption that might occur without proper protection."

Grant said that although a few entries may drop out by spring, particularly those from out of state, he expects the April event to be big.

"It's going to be on a Saturday, which should draw more people," he said.

"We went on when a war broke out in Kuwait, when there was torrential rain. There would have to be another monster earthquake to keep us from going on this time."

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