Entering its fifth decade, the 41st annual Black History Parade and Expo rolled down Magnolia Avenue, rumbled up Market Street and concluded at the Grand Stand in front of the Riverside Courthouse. It was a joyful day full of music, food, entertainment and education.
The parade drew a large crowd of spectators, parents and children to the two-hours-long display by drill teams, bands, drum lines, church groups, fire engines and local officials from the mayor to county officials and sheriffs. And it felt like a family affair with siblings and family members marching alongside young performers all decked out in colorful uniforms and fancy boots.
Meanwhile, north of the courthouse in the pedestrian mall and lining both sides of Tenth Street, exhibitors and food vendors served long lines of hungry, curious folk.
One of the most eye-catching booths offered the bright colors and designs of African fashion. Exhibitor Etta Bonner, who is in the process of redesigning and rebranding her business, Afrih-ats Fashions, was busy helping curious visitors try on the ruffled and pleated garments. A few booths away, the California Highway Patrol, the San Bernardino Sheriffs and the Riverside Police Department offered public service information, while many social service agencies happily explained their good work to interested bystanders.
At the SBX booth, Tamara Paige proudly offered a flier for a “second chance” program to combat incarceration. A sorority devoted to mentoring youth and eliminating poverty, Sigma Beta Xi has created a program to help those who are on probation or have been in jail.
At a nearby booth, Shene Bowie-Hussey and Allita Watkins offered raffle tickets for two brightly colored gift bags. They represented the Riverside Community Health Organization and a coalition of volunteers working for Black health and wellness.
Across the way, Girl Scouts danced and promoted their cookies.
The parade ended in the front of the courthouse lawn, where the performers were recognized, cheered and welcomed by a phalanx of cell phone cameras wielded by proud parents. My big regret of the day? So many interesting people and groups to photograph, so little time!