MLK Committee member Belinda Davis stands by a banner honoring King's legacy during the city's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration on Monday, Jan. 17. Courtesy photo
Ormond Beach Observer
For over 30 years, the city of Ormond Beach and a team of dedicated community members have worked to ensure that the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is kept alive.
It's a matter of great value to Tina Carlyle.
"Being together, everybody being treated equally, fair justice — that means so much to me," the Ormond Beach resident said.
As both the chairperson of the city's MLK Committee and a health care professional, Carlyle knew that the committee had to find a way to celebrate King's contributions in a safe manner, a challenge during a global pandemic. Typically, the committee and the city hold an annual breakfast celebration on the holiday, complete with a celebratory program highlighting King's accomplishments through song and dance.
The event was canceled in 2021 because of the pandemic, and around April of that year, the committee decided to think outside the box for 2022.
“When we met, I said, ‘I don’t think COVID is going anywhere anytime soon. We can’t go another year without having it, so let’s make it a grab-and-go breakfast,'" Carlyle said. "'Let’s let Ormond know that we are still trying our best to keep his legacy alive, and then let’s add a few things on it.’”
Thus, the idea for a Dine and Dash breakfast celebration in King's memory was born. On the morning of Monday, Jan. 17, the MLK committee and the city hosted the free event inside the South Ormond Neighborhood Center gym, as well as offered assistance with voter registrations and free COVID-19 testing.
Mayor Bill Partington, who attended the event, said he looks forward to breakfast celebration because it's a great opportunity to celebrate King.
“I think it’s one of the most beautiful celebrations that the city has every year," he said. "I hate to see it under-attended, but with COVID, it’s made it difficult. Still, the passion is there to make sure that it’s recognized.”
Enough food was prepared to feed 200, and though less people dropped by, the food didn't go to waste. Passing WastePro employees were given breakfast, and first responders were also invited to partake. Any food left at the end of the event was slated to help feed the homeless.
Partington said many of King's teachings remain relevant in today's age, especially with the hope to return to a sense of normalcy in a post-pandemic world. The mayor hopes people will regain kindness for one another, something that has been challenged in the pandemic.
“It’s the unity, the brotherhood, the equality and just the love of all people — regardless of age, race, creed," he said. "It’s just a very inclusive and wonderful celebration.”
Carlyle has been at the helm of the committee for about 10 years. As someone who was raised in Ormond, she saw it as a way to give back to her community, and hopes that in 2023, the committee and the city will be able to host a regular celebration for the holiday. But for a pandemic year, she is pleased with what they were able to accomplish.
“This right here, I am satisfied that we are able to do this for the community," Carlyle said.