Thousands turn out for Hickory Hill parade

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Martin Luther King Hickory Hill Parade Saturday marked the reopening of the Hickory Ridge Mall following severe storm damage in 2008.

The parade kicked off to cheers from many Hickory Hill residents.

"The best parade I've ever been to," said T'Coriean Blackman.

On the eve of the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination, people reflected on his dream.

"The Memphis violence rate's been so high," said Antionne Studevant, "so it's time for a change."

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets bordering the Hickory Ridge Mall to watch the parade marking its reopening.

"I am so glad the area is coming back," said Bonnie Burton.

In 2008, a tornado tore through the heart of the mall, but World Overcomers Church bought it in hopes of revitalizing the community.

"It's just marvelous to see the community turning out like this after such a hideous storm behind us," said Mattie Walton.  "And what a beautiful day."

For the people of Hickory Hill, the parade marked a new beginning.  The reopening of Hickory Ridge Mall will mean 500 jobs for the community.

Former American Idol contestant Lil' Rounds participated in the parade.

The vocalist said she knew first hand about the tornado damage in Hickory Hill.  She was living in the area when tornadoes moved through and destroyed her home.

"Having Hickory Hill a part of my history is something that I thoroughly enjoy and I feel like it's coming back to life," Lil' Rounds said.

Action News 5's Joe Birch and Ursula Madden emceed the parade, while weatherman Dave Brown shared a float with NBC Kid Reporter Deidre Shores.

"I think it's good that we can all come together to do one good thing to open up the mall," said Shores.  "It's great."

For many, seeing Dr. King's own daughter, Bernice, serve as grand Marshall of the parade was the memory of a lifetime.

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