Special to South Florida Times

The 33rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gala at the new Riviera Beach Event Center was a night to celebrate. The Jan. 21 ceremony featured award presentations, speeches, blessings and even smooth jazz.

“Building Bridges for a Better Future” was the theme for this year’s Riviera Beach MLK Holiday celebration, which included events such as the annual parade, for which Debra L. Robinson, vice chairwoman of the Palm Beach County School Board, was 2017 Grand Marshal.

The gala served as a professional finale for the city’s two weeks of festivities honoring the beloved civil-rights leader. Carol Moseley Braun, former Illinois senator and ambassador to New Zealand, took the spotlight as keynote speaker for the gala event.

There, family and friends gathered to honor Dr. King and his legacy, as well as to discuss the progress of the city of Riviera, hoping to continue to move in the right direction as a community and as individuals.

In a sign of how much Riviera Beach officials consider theirs to be a city on the move, Interim City Manager Danny Jones noted their last gala was held in Palm Beach Gardens due to lack of a suitable facility in Riviera.

At the brand new Event Center – part of the city’s redeveloped marina on the Intra- coastal Waterway – roughly 400 dignitaries, residents and guests were dressed in their best. The center, decorated in purple-and- gold hues, also sparkled.

During the awards presentation, honors went to Timothy Alvin, 2017 Employee of the Year; Luecinda Johnson-Monroe, 2017 Customer Service Employee of the Year; Louise Dawkins, Citizen of the Year; Mary Feacher, Senior Citizen of the Year; Riviera Beach

Chargers Football Team, Youth of the Year; Judge Bradley Harper, Home Town Hero; Sen. Bobby Powell, Jr., Home Town Hero; and Coach Marcus Williams, Home Town Hero.