OC Black History Parade and Cultural Faire
By Dianne Anderson
Batons twirling, drummers drumming and plenty of good eats are just a few attractions that will draw thousands of spectators to the Orange County Black History Parade Cultural Faire.
And don’t forget the nonstop prime time entertainment.
Shedrick Collins is thrilled with the outpouring of support, and says the community should arrive early, and bring a chair.
“There will be a pre-performance before the parade kicks off. There will be tons of entertainment, food and vendors. We know that this is going to be our biggest year yet,” said Collins, president of the Orange County Heritage Council.
On Saturday, February 1, the 40th-anniversary celebration hosts a full day for friends and family, and plenty of recreation for the kids, including a surprise character visiting from Disneyland. The event runs from 8:00 a.m. To 5:00 p.m.
This year’s event brings out several long-running supporters in the community as well as local dignitaries, along with many new participants on board.
There will be 13 different marching bands, two from San Diego, one from Palmdale, Banning, Crenshaw and Inglewood, and a host of others locally.
Under the theme, “Celebrating Our Heritage, Embracing Our Past and Building Our Future,” the parade will trek a two-mile route from Anaheim Blvd/Lincoln Avenue, winding south to Vermont Avenue and returning to Anaheim City Hall. The Cultural Faire continues at Center Street Promenade.
This year, the Grand Marshal is actress LisaRaye McCoy, actress and singer Moniece Slaughter, Tonya Banks, and Boss Lady Ana Vergara, along with The Soul Train Dancers, Devante Swing of R&B Group Jodeci, just to name a few.
Sectional Marshals include Misster Ray, Star of Love & HipHop Hollywood; Charles Wright of “Respect Yourself,” Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; Brian Townsend editor and publisher of Tri-County Bulletin, Precinct Reporter & Long Beach Leader; Disneyland Resort; media personality Jasmine Brand and Hank Williams, the first African American to drive the Indianapolis Speedway
Vans Shoes is sponsoring one of the stages in Youth Village, and the Vans Shoes Art Contest where 13 winners will be selected based on age and category. Winners will have their works displayed at the Vans Irvine corporate office, and will meet up with the marketing team there, he said.
But the event won’t be all fun and games.
Event organizers are encouraging men to stop by and get their finger pricked for a good cause. In the old days, prostate cancer was primarily detected by drawing blood prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Or worse, the dreaded physical finger exam.
These days, testing is faster and easier.
“It’s just a little prick on your hand,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons that Black men always did not get tested because they suffered from prostate exam.”
The event is partnering with the City of Hope in the hope of getting 100 men tested. The big focus this year is getting men of color tested regularly.
Black men are still twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than white men, but early detection and treatment offer a 97 percent 10-year survival, a similar survival rate as white males. The key is getting tested consistently and early.
City of Hope will also have its Blood Mobile out for donations. Doctors will be speaking about prostate cancer, and high blood pressure awareness.
The parade was started by the late Helen Shipp 40 years ago in Santa Ana, and continues through her son, Dwayne Shipp, current president of the Orange County Heritage Council.
Each year, it pulls a huge crowd. For this event, they expect at least 15,000 spectators and over 100 vendors. People are coming out from miles and miles around.
Aside from the festivities, they are also using the venue to increase voter registration.
“That’s one of the things we’re pushing at the parade. They’re going to have a booth. They have digital machines where they can sign up voters on the spot,” he said.
He said they will continue to accept vendor applications until Saturday, January 25.
Overall, the parade is a year-round labor of love for their 14 member OC Heritage Council of devoted volunteers. Everyone works hard, he said, and dedicated to bringing the event to the community.
In addition to local business owners who donate their goods and services, he said the event attracts many great partnerships with the city.
“We’ve just been blessed, to be honest,” he said. “I don’t take anything for granted. I hope that this will be someday as large as the Rose Parade.”
For more information, see http://oc-hc.org/