Since 1983, the third Monday of January has been designated as a federal holiday marking the birthdate of Martin Luther King Jr. Like so many other birthday-related federal holidays, King’s actual birthdate is January 15th, but due to federal guidelines, we celebrate it on the third Monday which means the holiday can fall anywhere between the 15th and the 21st of the month.
Whenever it occurs, MLK Day is a celebration of the life of Dr. King, an influential civil rights leader who worked hard to end racial segregation and to promote racial equality. We may remember him most for his nonviolent protests including those in Birmingham, Alabama and the 1963 March on Washington where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial with more than a quarter million people in attendance. And of course, we can’t forget his assassination on April 4th, 1968 on a second-floor balcony in a Memphis motel.
Since 1994, the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday has been designated as a national day of service. It’s the only federal holiday that is considered “a day on, not a day off”. It’s a call for all people to come together in service to solve our nation’s social problems. Many Americans, singly or in groups, spend the day volunteering in the community, not just lazing around. MLK Day is something much more than just another three-day weekend, and celebrations around the country, and even the world, continue to grow and to honor King’s legacy. Here are a few ideas on celebrating MLK Day here in Bend.
Local and National Celebrations
It’s hard to say with any certainty if the Bend MLK Day festivities will occur this year. With notifications and rules changing so often, who knows what will happen day-to-day? So, there may or may not be a parade or other celebrations taking place in Bend. And it is always possible that the festivities could be postponed and then combined with other federal holidays, or just be virtual events.
If you really need the parade for it to feel like a holiday, check the calendars for local colleges and universities. You’ll need to plan the trip ahead of time, but the annual Peace March at Oregon State University’s Corvallis campus may still be on. Watch or join the students in the march. Or, grab the kids and settle down in front of the flat screen in your rental’s living room, and live-stream a parade from anywhere in the country.
Day of Service
Make this MLK Day mean something. It’s easy to follow Dr. King’s belief that each person has the power to change the world and volunteer for a day of service. It can be as simple as picking up any trash you see while you’re out and about, or just writing a check for a local community organization. Go a step farther and join a local non-profit group or church in a community service project. Even a morning of volunteering before you hit the slopes can make a difference in someone’s life.
Martin Luther King Day in Bend
You’ve made it here to beautiful Bend, so you’re going to want to spend some of your Oregon weekend getaway trip outside enjoying it. And one great aspect of celebrating MLK Day here in Bend, is that it is a fee-free day at public parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other federal recreational areas. This means that there are no parking and entry fees! Yay!
Head to the Deschutes National Forest for wildlife viewing, amazing panoramic views, alpine lakes, scenic drives through alpine forests, and if there’s snow on the ground, skiing, snowboarding, sledding and tubing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. From placid Lake Billy Chinook to the top of South Sister’s summit, there’s something for everyone here.
Visit Newberry National Volcanic Monument where you can walk over ancient lava flows frozen in time, like the amazing, brilliant Big Obsidian Flow, or explore the dormant cinder cone of a volcano. Crater Lake National Park is a little farther out, but worth the trip. It’s the deepest lake in North America, and is an amazing turquoise color.
Head to Mt. Bachelor for the best skiing in the area. There’ll be fees, but there’s fun too. And, snow or no snow, there’s plenty to do here, from mountain biking or fat biking, hiking or cross-country skiing, ice-skating and golfing. Or just stay in town and climb Pilot Butte, an ancient cinder cone right in the middle of town. It’s a great landmark and the view from the top is worth the effort.
If you’re unsure what’s open, what’s closed and what festivities are postponed or are still ongoing, just give us a call. We’re keeping up-to-date on what’s happening in our lovely corner of the world.