Cold weather forced a community march on campus for Martin Luther King Jr. Day indoors for the second year in a row Monday.
Despite the cold, speakers, singers and an enthusiastic crowd filled the Lory Student Center Theatre to celebrate the commemorative day.
“It’s unfortunate that the weather kept us from having the march, but it’s always a great program,” said Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson, “They’ve really outdone themselves this year.”
Attendance was lower compared to previous celebrations, as many people didn’t turn up after learning that the march itself — a Fort Collins tradition since 1982 — had been cancelled, said Dallawrence Dean, event organizer.
But some participants said the cancellation did not lower spirits.
“It doesn’t matter where it is physically, it’s about what’s going on inside the heart,” said Bridgette Johnson, a CSU advocacy retention coordinator.
Crowds sang along with the Abyssinian Christian Church Choir and cheered local poet Jennifer Pacheco, who addressed the crowd with some bold and inspirational lines.
“To dream is to dream with eyes wide open,” she said. “Not partially closed. Not shut.”
Along with college students and Fort Collins community members, children were a frequent sight at the event, including members of the Caring Kids Club.
The Caring Kids Club, established seven years ago by three Fort Collins families, works to complete one community service project a month. For January, the children made bookmarks bearing MLK quotes, which were handed out at the event.
“(The MLK event) inspires the kids, because they work all year for social justice and good causes.” said Toni Zimmerman, a founding member of the Caring Kids Club.
Speakers at the event agreed that progress has been made in establishing equality, but all agreed there’s still work to be done.
Johnson said she believes Fort Collins is a great place to live, but that community members need to adopt more proactive lifestyles. Fort Collins could accomplish this by learning to appreciate people’s differences, she said.
As a longstanding tradition, the march holds certain importance in Fort Collins and is something many residents attend annually.
“I like the community here and what they stand for,” said Nate Denning.
Denning, a freshman at Lincoln Junior High School, was born and raised in Fort Collins and has attended the event since childhood.
Hutchinson said he admires King as a leader who changed the nation in a way that fits America: through non-violent means. But there is still work to be done, he added.
“Our only hope lies in the ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit,” he said.
Senior Reporter Cece Wildeman can be reached at email@example.com.