Jan 14, 2024 - News

Denver's annual MLK parade is the largest in the West

Wilma Webb (center) during the 2005 Marade alongside her husband, former Mayor Wellington Webb, and then-Mayor John Hickenlooper. Photo: Kathryn Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The inaugural Denver marade in 1986 drew some 15,000 people.

Details: Nearly 40 years later, it's grown to about 60,000 people who attend the annual parade and march — the largest celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life this side of the Mississippi River.

Zoom in: The term "marade" was coined by former state lawmaker Wilma Webb by combining the words parade and march. Webb was largely responsible for ensuring King received recognition in Colorado on his birthday.

The intrigue: Webb was initially unsuccessful in passing a bill in the state legislature to recognize King's birthday, succeeding only after it became a national holiday in 1983 thanks to President Ronald Reagan.

Of note: Denver's marade has faced challenges over the years, most notably in 1992, when white supremacists heckled marchers with hate speech after getting an event permit on the same day, resulting in a riot after the event concluded.

Go deeper: Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy in Denver

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