PLANT CITY – Bettye Goodwine said she never expected any special recognition for her service to her church and community.
She was surprised when she learned that she’d be the grand marshal of Saturday’s annual parade honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“When they called me and told me, I thought they had the wrong number,” the retired elementary school teacher said. “I’ve been to this parade – I love parades – but I’ve never been in the parade.”
The parade that starts at 1 p.m. is one of the highlights of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Arts Festival, which runs Friday through Jan. 20.
The selection of Goodwine for a place of honor in Saturday’s procession wasn’t a difficult one, said William Thomas Jr., vice president of the Improvement League of Plant City.
The theme of the 27th annual cultural arts festival is “Charity; the Catalyst of the Dream.” Thomas said Goodwine personifies charity with her years of service as an educator, church member and help to the poor, among other accomplishments.
“She is one of those individuals who you don’t have to ask to serve. When she sees a need, she just shows up, and usually brings many people with her,” Thomas said.
Goodwine moved to Plant City in the seventh grade and graduated from Marshall High School before earning her degree from Florida A&M University in 1965. She and her husband, Donald, a Plant City native, taught in schools in Syracuse, N.Y., before returning home in 1999.
Goodwine is active in St. Mary’s Community Church. The more than 100-year-old church played a key role in her formative years and she wanted to give back in a big way after she retired, she said.
On a weekly basis, she visits nursing homes and retirement centers. She regularly serves or cooks meals to the homeless and takes food to shut-ins.
Thomas said the Improvement League, which founded the festival in 1986, sees such community service as a key.
“That is what drove the dream of Dr. King, to do for others who are in need,” he said.
Goodwine isn’t the only person who will be honored at the festival.
During a 7:30 a.m. Sunday leadership breakfast, the following individuals will receive awards:
• Dr. Maribeth Mobley, longtime educator, including former interim dean, at Hillsborough Community College’s Plant City campus, will receive the E.L. Bing Education Award.
• Stanley Glover, veteran Marshall Middle School teacher and sponsor of the school’s Gentlemen’s Quest club, will be presented with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award.
• Evalina Scott, retired Tampa General Hospital employee who is active in various ministries at St. Mary’s Missionary Baptist Church, where her husband is pastor, will receive the Sadye Martin Community Service Award.
Schedule of events
11:30 a.m. - Opening ceremony at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, 1601 E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., featuring the Rev. Maxie Miller, Lincoln Elementary IB Choir and Drummer Club and Marshall Middle School’s Gentlemen’s Quest
10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.: Carnival and midway open at the recreation center grounds
1 p.m.: Parade forms at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Wheeler Street, heads east on MLK to the recreation center
2:30 p.m.: Concert at recreation center featuring Jre Riley with his single “Moving in”
4 p.m.: Gospel Extravaganza at recreation center
7:30 a.m. Leadership Breakfast, Hillsborough Community College’s John R. Trinkle Center, 1206 N. Park Road; tickets $25. Featured speaker will be Dr. Gladys Wright, a retired Gainesville educator.
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Freedom Walk at Samuel W. Cooper Park, 900 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; zumba classes will be taught at the park and the Bing Rooming House Museum, 205 Allen St., will be open for tours
For a complete schedule or information, go to www.plantcitymlkfestival.com or call (813) 757-6760.