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Marade organizers say they removed King Soopers as sponsor amid strike

A Marade organizer said they will be returning King Soopers' sponsorship money, though a spokesperson said the Marade can keep the funds.

DENVER — Organizers of Denver's Marade, the annual parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., have told 9NEWS that they removed King Soopers as a sponsor of the event.

Christian Steward, the Marade's deputy staff commander, confirmed they will return the grocery chain's contribution because of the ongoing labor dispute with the union representing employees, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7.

A representative for King Soopers said Monday evening the company had not been informed of the decision by the Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission to reject the sponsorship. Later Monday, however, King Soopers spokesperson Kelli McGannon said organizers will be able to keep the money "because love should always be bigger than hate."

King Soopers had been a sponsor of the event for more than a decade. The commission said the decision to reject King Soopers' sponsorship was made as soon as the workers' strike was announced. The strike began on Jan. 12.

As of Monday evening, the Marade website continued to list King Soopers as the sole corporate sponsor. 

RELATED: Marade through Denver honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1968, King's final days were spent in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis.  

"I have a dream today that you will go to King Soopers today not to cross the line, but to stand with those workers and say to them, 'Thank you for seeing us through COVID. Thank you for making a difference,'" Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said at the Marade on Monday. "I have a dream today, because if he was here at 93 and able-bodied, Dr. King would be in that picket line today."

The Marade returned to an in-person event in 2022 after an online event in 2021 because of the coronavirus.

RELATED: King Soopers strike continues as both sides agree to negotiate for fourth day

RELATED: These are the Front Range King Soopers locations affected by the strike

WATCH: Sights and sounds of 2022 Marade

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