The HFV Wilson Community Center is busy preparing for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and Program Director Orion Slatten said there will likely be a change to this year’s parade due to the downtown streetscape project.

“Construction is a big issue,” Slatten said. Instead of beginning at Central Park as it has in previous years, Slatten said the new route will likely begin at Cardinal Park, head north to Martin Luther King Dr., then take E St. back to the HFV Wilson Center.

“We’ve pretty much got that in place,” Slatten said. “We feel like that will be a good route. It seems pretty clear, and it’s the same distance as the one they’ve used before.”

Slatten said that the parade has also been interrupted by a poorly timed train in years past, and the new route would prevent this from occurring.

Once at the center, participants will go inside for the annual Martin King Jr. Day Program. There, a key note speaker will discuss the significance of the holiday, and the event will conclude with a performance from a children’s choir.

Slatten could not yet confirm who this year’s speaker will be, but he said letters have already been sent out about the upcoming children’s choir practices.

“Our choir will be children from a bunch of different churches in Ardmore and the surrounding towns,” Slatten said. “They’re going to come here to practice, then the day of the event they’ll have on their (logo) shirts and they’ll sing some songs.”

This will be the first year Slatten and the majority of the staff have been at the HFV Wilson Center for the annual event, and he said they are all working diligently to ensure this year’s program lives up to those past.

“We’ve only had one person here who’s been here for MLK Day in the past, so the rest of us are new to this so we’re getting tips where we can to make sure everything’s how it should be,” Slatten said. “We want to keep that bar raised and even exceed it in the best way that we can.”

“Our director and all of our staff are excited to put this all together,” Slatten said. “It’s an important day and we take pride in doing this for the community because that’s what it’s all about.”

The parade is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 21.  The program will begin around 11 a.m. at the HFV Wilson Community Center, and Slatten said that in years past the event has ended around noon.

Any organization that wants to participate in this year’s parade can sign up by calling the HFV Wilson Community Center or visiting their website at www.funinardmroe.org. Registration is $10 in person or $11 online.