Opal Lee, whose working life gained national recognition for Juneteenth culminated with the day being recognized as a federal holiday last summer, is being honored again – this time by being named Grand Marshal of the annual Parade of Lights of Fort Worth.
The annual parade kicks off the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons this Sunday evening (from 6 p.m.) and features 100 professionally designed and illuminated floats, marching bands, The Wheelie-ing Elvi (mini-motorcycles resembling to Elvis), unicyclists, classic cars, jugglers, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus “, all decorated on this year’s theme” Making Minds Shining “.
Organizers of the 39th annual GM Financial Parade of Lights said Lee, 95, will be joined by her family and criminal justice reform advocate Dr Belay Reddick atop the famous Grand Marshal float during of the 2.2 mile parade through downtown Fort Worth. .
The design of the Grand Marshal’s chariot will incorporate the name of Lee and Reddick’s shared message, the ‘Change is Possible Tour’.
Before the parade, in General Worth Square, 1,000 copies of Lee’s children’s book, “Juneteenth: A Children’s Story” will be distributed starting around 1 pm.
“The book presents the history of slavery and freedom to children in an easy-to-understand way, while highlighting the celebration of Juneteenth and the importance of commemorating the milestone event across America,” said said the organizers.
Opal Lee joins the ranks of previously honored Parade of Lights Grand Marshals, including former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, owners of Billy Bob’s Texas Pam and Billy Minick, Emmy Award-winning conductor Miguel Harth -Bedoya, US Navy Captain Henry “Hank” Kim, acclaimed singer-songwriter Grady Spencer, and more.
The parade begins on Houston and Weatherford streets and heads east on Weatherford, south on Commerce Street, west on 9th Street, north on Houston, west on 2nd Street, south on Throckmorton Street and ends after turning west on 3rd Street.
Tens of thousands of people typically line the streets of Fort Worth to witness the state’s largest illuminated holiday parade. Reserved places are available along the parade route, otherwise there are only standing places.