Thousands attend MLK Day of Service in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The nation honored the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday.

It's a federal holiday and day of service to mark the birthday of the iconic civil rights leader.

Dr. King's life and legacy was honored in Philadelphia with the annual National Bell Ringing ceremony.

The tradition went on, however, it was held at Hotel 21 at 17th and Market streets because the real Liberty Bell is closed due to the government shutdown.

A substitute bell was used courtesy of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Mayor Jim Kenney and other dignitaries were on hand for the event.

The city of Philadelphia is proud to host the largest MLK Day of Service community event in the nation.

For the 24th year, thousands of people from all around the region gathered for the at Girard Collage.

Governor Tom Wolf, Mayor Kenney and Senator Bob Casey were all in attendance.

"Let's rededicate our lives to the kinds of things Dr. King lived and died for," Wolf said.

"We want to think about Dr. King and the sacrifices that he made and pursuit of justice," Todd Bernstein, the founder and director of the Philadelphia MLK Day of Service, said.

The purpose of the event is to honor Dr. King's legacy with projects that serve the community. The overarching theme this year was gun violence and how to create a world without it.

Terrez McCleary's daughter Tamera was shot to death. She was 21-years-old.

She founded the group Moms Bonded by Grief.

"Since we all have been affected by gun violence, we partnered with March for Our Lives Philadelphia," McCleary said.

Just in the gymnasium alone, there were over 125 activities and over 5,000 volunteers. Projects varied from flowers for the home bound, to dancing, to cool rocks of kindness to give to strangers.

There were teddy bears for children affected by domestic violence and baskets with toiletries for the homeless.

And although this is the largest event of its kind in the country, the organizer hopes that the passion and dedication from Philadelphia will continue throughout the year and they find ways to serve their community each and every day just as Dr. King would have wanted.

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