Riviera Beach ‘Building Bridges for a Better Future’

Orbin Montoya, Terence Graham and Brianna Luberisse
AND THE CANES WERE THERE: GroveWatch.com's Terence Graham, Orbin Montoya and Brianna Luberisse captured the scenes in video, photographs and in writing as Riviera Beach Council Chairman Terence "TD" Davis (left) recognized Judge Bradley Harper with the Home Town Hero award during the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Gala celebration Jan. 21 at the Riviera Beach Event Center.

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.

Through an arrangement with city officials, Inlet Grove Hurricanes Brianna Luberisse, Orbin Montoya and Terence Graham also were present to  document the distinguished event in photographs, on video and in print.

“Building Bridges for a Better Future” was the theme for this year’s Riviera Beach MLK Holiday celebration, which included such events as the annual parade. For that, 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, radiantly dressed in shades of gold, took the spotlight as keynote speaker for the event. Many guests were eager to take a photo with the first female African-American U.S. senator, who went on to become the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand.

The Riviera Beach family and their friends were gathered to honor Dr. King and his legacy, as well as to discuss the progress of the city, 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 that their last gala was held in Palm Beach Gardens, for lack of a suitable facility in Riviera.

At the brand new Event Center – part of the city’s redeveloped marina on the Intracoastal 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.

“Being part of this special gala was important,” said the Hurricanes’ Montoya. “I was comfortable shooting video and taking pictures. Every time I talked with people they told me I was doing a good job, and that made me feel like I wanted to be there again next year to do even better.”

“It was a very inspiring evening,” Luberisse said. “They showed younger children including me that change is possible and that we need to get together to make that change. To be a part of this gala and to take pictures to capture the evening was a great experience. Talking to all these dignified people who congratulated me for my good doings made me think that this moment is something that I would and am going to cherish.”

Editor’s note: A version of this story also was published in the South Florida Times newspaper.