The Sistrunk Festival & Parade returns Feb. 24 with elevated live entertainment such as Grammy nominated artist Chante Moore and the Nikki Kidd Band.
By CAROLYN GUNISS
Margaret Haynie Birch remembers the early days of the Sistrunk Parade and Festival.
She would take her children to watch the parade on the street.
My eldest is 55 and he grew up with the festival,” Haynie Birch said.
It was a two-day event that celebrated the African-American heritage and the legacy of the festival’s namesake, Dr.
James Franklin Sistrunk, one of the first Black physicians in Broward County.
Today, the festival is a three-part affair, but held all on one day, Feb. 24.
“There’s been a myriad of changes. It has grown a lot over the years,” said Haynie Birch, who serves on the board of directors of the Sistrunk Historical Organization, which puts on the parade and stages the Sistrunk Gala that raises money for scholarships.
Birch said the festival thrives on the corridor, but for a few years it was held inside parks, which she considered too confining.
“The older residents did not attend. They had grown up with the festival on the street,” she said.
But about three years ago, Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Robert McKinzie helped the group bring the festival back to the streets.
And while Saturday’s activities start at parks, all events are on the street.
The celebration starts with the Chris Smith All-Star Classic Sistrunk 5K, which is in its third year as part of the festival. Runners and walkers will start at Delevoe Park at 7 a.m.
A parade of floats, school marching bands, step teams and classic cars will start at 9 a.m. at Lincoln Park on Sistrunk Boulevard and 19th Ave. and head east along the corridor to Northwest 10th Avenue.
After the parade, the fun continues, starting at about 11 a.m. with performing artists, kids entertainment, food vendors and interactive games.
Birch said because of the local government’s involvement, the entertainment side of the festival has been “elevated.”
The headliner for the event is Chante Moore, a Grammy-nominated R&B artist who rose to fame in the late 1990s. In 2013, Moore was a television personality in TV One’s reality series “R&B Divas: Los Angeles.”
She has released several albums – “Precious,” “A Love Supreme,” “This Moment is Mine,” “Exposed,” “Love the Woman,” “Moore Is More” and others.
Her hit songs include “Love’s Taken Over,” “It’s Alright” and “Chanté’s Got a Man,” which became her first Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the R&B Chart.
Other acts at the festival are Gypsy Lane Band, N2Nation, Nikki Kid Band and Heavenly Express.
Birch said she is thankful for the attention Commissioner McKinzie pays to the festival.
“Now all ages are out there and bringing their grandkids,” Haynie Birch said.