Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade sparks controversy in OKC
OKLAHOMA CITY – Next Monday the streets of downtown Oklahoma City will come alive with music.
That’s when the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade will wind its way down Broadway and into Bricktown.
Yet some business owners in the area said the parade is hurting their bottom line and spoke against the event at city council.
The parade closes down dozens of city blocks starting at 10th St. and Broadway.
Store owners said that absolutely wreaks havoc on stores open for business in the area.
“I mean it’s a $5 ($5,000) to $10,000 impact on my business that we won’t be able to get back,” business owner Steve Schlegel said.
Steve, the owner of Schlegel Bikes, said unfortunately the extensive road closures to accommodate the parade limits access to his business.
“There has been a little conflict,” councilwoman Meg Salyer said.
Salyer understands the complaint.
Her office is also on Broadway.
“People trying to enter that area find it extremely difficult,” Salyer said.
“We do see the problems from both sides,” parade organizer Roosevelt Milton said.
Milton admits over the last few years Broadway has seen an influx of retail shops.
“When we started the event there wasn’t quite as many merchants,” he said.
Despite the financial concerns, the council still approved this years parade but not without a promise of change.
“It’s an important day to celebrate but we need to have better communication to possibly adjusting the route,” Salyer said.
It’s too late to adjust this year’s parade but Roosevelt is OK with moving the route over to Robinson or Walker in the future.
“We’re flexible. If we have to move the route, we’re willing to do that,” Milton said.
In addition to a new route, business owners want more notice on which streets will be closed.
They’d like to have 30 to 60 days heads up before streets are shut down.