WOONSOCKET â€” The Martin Luther King Day Community Committee capped a celebratory weekend of events honoring the slain civil rights leader with a wreath-laying ceremony at the colorful new King Memorial on South Main Street.
The sculpture-like tableau depicting King preaching to a band of followers was dedicated last fall, but yesterday was the first time it had served as the backdrop for a formal King Day celebration.
By all accounts, the cityâ€™s newest work of public art made stellar grades on the occasion, even if the perennials used in the landscaping are dormant this time of year.
â€śItâ€™s good representation for the city,â€ť says Margaux Morisseau, director of community building for NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley. â€śYou see people riding by looking at the site. They like it.â€ť
About 75 people attended yesterdayâ€™s tribute, featuring brief remarks from members of the MLK Community Committee and a number of dignitaries, including a surprise appearance by General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who attended with her children and husband. Thomas Gray, assistant committee chairman, Police Chief Thomas Carey, who served on the panel, State Rep. Stephen Casey (D-Dist. 50) and Mayor Leo T. Fontaine also addressed the gathering. Councilmen Christopher Beauchamp and Robert Moreau were in the crowd, along with many congregants of St. James Baptist Church and members of the clergy from other worship groups.
The ceremony was the last in a series of events that began Friday with a dinner at Saviniâ€™s Restaurant in support of the J.H. Hinson Scholarship program. Sunday featured an MLK worship service at St. James Baptist Church, while Saturday was billed a day of volunteer service.
â€śSaturday was the day,â€ť remarked Carey, who became chief in 2008 after retiring from a long police career in Florida. â€śIn the four years Iâ€™ve been here, itâ€™s been the best day...â€ť
An estimated 140 volunteers, young and old, of all creeds and nationalities, turned out to do community service work. Teams of volunteers finished two new murals at Woonsocket High School and a third at the YMCA, while another team worked all day cleaning up the Kevin K. Coleman School in the Fairmount section.
Read more in our print edition.