RIVERSIDE – The Riverside Black History Parade will be held today as planned despite the ambush slaying of a Riverside police officer earlier this week, with ceremonies dedicated to law enforcement officers, firefighters, members of the armed forces and others who serve the public.
“What happened is so mind-boggling. It’s a real tragedy,” Carmen Roberts, chairwoman of the Riverside Black History Committee, told City News Service Friday. “Our hearts go out to the family of the slain officer and others who were impacted by this.”
Roberts said organizers of the 34th annual Black History Parade & Expo decided months ago to make this year’s theme “To Those Who Serve,” and now the message has taken on greater meaning in the wake of Thursday’s fatal shooting of a patrol officer and the wounding of his partner — both of whom were allegedly attacked by a rogue ex-lawman who is still on the loose.
“It’s a reminder of how vulnerable we are,” Roberts told. “We want to thank policemen and firemen and everybody else who serves.”
Riverside police Chief Sergio Diaz will participate in the parade, along with other city officials. Former Mayor Ron Loveridge, who left office Jan. 1, will be the grand marshal.
The event is slated to get under way at 9:45 a.m. outside Riverside City College at Magnolia Avenue and Ramona Drive.
High school marching bands, drill teams, church groups, classic car clubs, equestrian teams, children’s groups and other organizations will join the procession as it heads east on Magnolia, ending at 13th and Main streets, near the Civic Center plaza.
Following the parade, organizers will hold a five-hour expo, featuring a host of food and merchandise vendors, as well as informational booths providing healthcare and job-related resources.
Several local entertainers will perform on an exhibition stage, and spectators will have a chance to chat with local leaders, according to organizers.
“This is important to bring the community together in remembrance of our heritage and ancestors,” Roberts said.