Bay Area Freedom Train has late surge in sales

The Bay Area's Freedom Train tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr will make its annual run from San Jose to San Francisco.
January 20, 2014 12:12:34 PM PST
The Bay Area's annual Freedom Train tribute for Martin Luther King, Jr. faces an uncertain future. Today's ride could mark the end of a nearly 30 year tradition. Ticket sales are down and that is threatening the freedom ride's existence.

After a plea to the community, there was a surge in ticket sales last night.

"We will run the train next year if we keep getting community support and we get some sponsors and donors, we will run it after next year. But right now, it's a year to year thing," said MLK Assoc. President Kathleen Flynn.

Attendance has been dwindling over the years and this year looked to be the worst with only 300 tickets sold as of Thursday. The train holds 1,600 people and costs $6,000 to charter.

"I was really worried because I love Dr. King and I love this train and everything it stands for and I just thought, you know what -- I'm going to ask the community. They have never failed us before and they won't fail us now and they didn't fail us," said Flynn.

New and old showed up this morning full of enthusiasm and hope that this wouldn't be the last year.

"This is the first time for all of us coming. We heard so much about it and how wonderful it is and how educational it is. So we brought the youth from our church," said Vanessa McConneaughey, Salinas.

There's a push to keep young people interested. One group is trying to bridge the gap from 1950s to now through dance and put on a performance inside the train station.

"A lot of the things that Dr. King spoke and desired when he was alive -- this is what we are doing, this is what we are demonstrating, but we are doing it through the arts," said choreographer Tavia Percia.

Will this enthusiasm be enough to keep it going? Organizers sure hope so, saying this is the only Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Train still running in the country.

Organizers said they covered this year's cost, selling the tickets at $15 each.


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