Volunteer Street Cleaners Help Prepare For MLK Celebration

It's another victory for South Mississippians determined to overcome tough odds. Despite some hardships left by Katrina, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. parade will proceed through East Biloxi on Monday. But the streets along the route were a mess. At least they were until Friday morning.

"We have over 100 Keesler Air Force Base Airmen, and some Marines and just all sorts of volunteers to help clean up the Martin Luther King parade route for the parade on Monday," says Lt. Col. Claudia Foss, Keesler's Public Affairs Director. "And we've partnered with Hands On USA to bring a whole team together."

Hands on Volunteers welcomed their camouflaged comrades into what they call their Re-Jubilation Effort.

"We want to bring back a sense of normalcy to the city," says Team Leader Janos Marton. "And in doing so, we're going to clean up streets, parks, schools, churches, basically anything we view as a public area that lots of people enjoy."

The decision to carry on with their traditional observance amid rubble and litter strewn streets wasn't easy for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Coastwide Birthday Celebration Committee.

"We're doing everything we normally do except we just don't have the bands coming to do the Battle of the Bands," says Committee Chairman James Crowell. "But otherwise everything else is in place."

Now residents will be able to celebrate the life and legacy of the great civil rights leader, on streets swept clean by people of nearly every creed and color. To the people of these neighborhoods, it's truly a dream realized.

"One thing the storm did is it leveled all of us, you know, from the millionaire down to the poorest," says Crowell. "So we're trying to lift one another up. We got to work together to do that."