The first major holiday of the year is fast approaching – Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Monday, Jan. 20 – and Greensboro is getting ready.

The big item on the menu that day is, of course, the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade in Greensboro, which honors King’s birthday in the city’s Ole Asheboro neighborhood. The parade is being organized by the Greensboro chapter of the NAACP and Gwen Alston, the wife of Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston – the man who founded the parade three decades ago.

Commissioner Alston told the Rhino Times last year at the time of the parade that he’d originally only thought of the parade as a “one-time event” and he never imagined it would go on for years and years.

Alston said that, after that first parade, everyone began excitingly asking him about the next parade, and he did a double take and thought, “Next parade?”

He said it was a great deal of work to organize the first one but everyone came together and the parade has been going on ever since. Now the community is preparing for a new one.

The route will start at Benbow Professional Building and end at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Gorrell Street. The parade will begin at 11 a.m.

On Sunday, Jan. 19, the Greensboro NAACP and the Pulpit Forum are sponsoring a “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration and Gospelfest.” That gospel music-infused event will be at United Institutional Baptist Church at 802 E. Market St in Greensboro. It will start at 3 p.m. Admission is free with the donation of a canned good item at the door.

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum, of course, also has plans to honor King’s Birthday. At 2 p.m. on Jan. 20, the museum will show the documentary: “King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis.” This Academy Award-nominated film focuses on key events in King’s life, beginning with the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. The film features footage of Kings’ speeches and is narrated by celebrities such as Harry Belafonte, Paul Newman and James Earl Jones.

The museum is also holding a showing of the film on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 2 p.m.

In honor of the day, the civil rights museum is also, in partnership with Greensboro Urban Ministry, holding a canned food drive. The movie showings are free and open to everyone but the museum is asking those attending and others in the community to support the canned food drive by dropping off cans during the museum’s normal business hours.