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Local museums, parks honor Martin Luther King Jr.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Museums and parks across Indianapolis found their own way to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service on Monday’s holiday: by opening their doors to the public, free of charge.

Vonda Veal and her family have a 20-year tradition of coming to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The free admission makes it possible for more than 30 members of Veal’s family to experience the museum.

Veal said the trip is about family bonding, but also about educating the younger members of her family.

“Once we’re cut, we all bleed the same red,” Veal explains. “I don’t see color, and for all of us to get together and just live that dream that he [King] preached so much. We all have a dream. We all want to get somewhere in life. We all want to succeed.”

The museum featured several different special programs in honor of the holiday like a West African drum ensemble and storytelling. Officials say they had between 4 and 5 times the number of people compared to a normal Saturday at the museum.

“We certainly wouldn’t want to let an opportunity like this get by without educating all children about the important history of the Civil Rights Movement here,” explained museum PR manager Leslie Olsen, “and how that has shaped our country now, as well as the African culture.”

At White River State Park, the life and times of Dr. King were celebrated through films, hands-on activities, and performance art. The IMAX also held free showings. The only cost to patrons was to bring a canned good. Over the past 15 years, the parks have collected 85 tons of canned foods for the Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.

“People are always in the right kind of mindset,” explained Craig Mince, theater director of the IMAX. “They want to make sure that they’re out taking advantage of the day, but at the same time being very conservative and making sure that they are celebrating the holiday properly.”