News 12 at 6 o'clock / Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It was a fun and festive day with a serious message as citizens and leaders came out to support the annual MLK parade. This year's theme hit close to home.
The theme was "stop the killing, stop the violence" and according to Sheriff Richard Roundtree, it's getting out in community events like this that will help make that happen.
The parade was filled with music, cars, candy and kids. Many in the community came out to be a part of this celebration.
Roundtree campaigned on making the Sheriff's Office more accessible to the community and says Saturday's participation is just the beginning.
"This is just one step. It's just January, but we are going to continue to spread this message throughout the year. Any event that's community-oriented, we want to be a part of it," Roundtree said.
One parade visitor says seeing the sheriff in the parade sends a message to the community.
"It reduces the crime rate. The younger folks were dying faster and he's stopping that. We need to stop that," said the parade visitor.
Roundtree says he's honored to be the first black sheriff of Richmond County, but his participation in the parade means a lot more than race.
"This is my hometown. I grew up here. Being able to serve my community at this level that means a lot to me," he said.
The sheriff says he is happy with Saturday's turnout but wants the community at large to know that the MLK celebration is not just for one group of people.
"For so long people have been engraved that there are certain holidays for certain ethnic groups, and it's never been that way. It's about celebrating the city, celebrating life, celebrating certain freedoms that a lot of people have fought for," Roundtree said.
That's one thing 7-year-old Sanaa Harris agrees with.
"I like to celebrate fun activities because I get to learn stuff about the world," she said.
Roundtree says all he wants is for everyone to work together.
"I think we can tear down those walls and come together. That's the message I'm going to send. Any opportunity I can get out in the community and share that message to bring people together, that's what I'm going to do," Roundtree said.
Roundtree wasn't the only attraction at the parade. Schools, bands and groups from all over Augusta helped to entertain people. The best float award was given to the Delta Sorority and the most creative group award went to Spice of New York.