NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Observances are being held across the country today in honor of what would have been the 83rd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A celebration is being held for the first time in his honor at the new King Memorial in Washington D.C. where Rev. Al Sharpton and others placed a wreath to honor the slain civil rights leader.
Monday marks the first King holiday where visitors can celebrate the memorial which was dedicated last August.
1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reports
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg marked the occasion with a breakfast with actress Angela Bassett. He will speak at an observance later in the day at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Eighty students from P.S. 140 are participating in volunteer projects to celebrate the holiday which is meant to be a national day of service.
"I feel like if Martin Luther King was alive then he would probably be happy," 9-year-old Zac Dilella told CBS 2's Kathryn Brown.
The students are making blankets for the homeless and potholders for senior citizens which they will deliver directly to those in need later this week.
Meanwhile, in Harlem, 4,000 high school athletes observed the day by running relays in Dr. King's memory.
WCBS 880's Catherine Cioffi On Malcolm X Boulevard
Instead of taking the day off, students from the Manhattan Country School took to the streets carrying posters decorated with images of Dr. Martun Luther King, Jr. and his quotes on MLK Day to to draw attention to present day civil rights issues.
"This whole march is about equality," said 13-year-old Micca.
He number one issue: youth immigration rights.
"They come to america, but they're not able to have a college education because they don't have all their papers, but they could be lawyers or activists," she told WCBS 880 reporter Catherine Cioffi.
She says there's still a lot of fighting that needs to be done.
"Martin Luther King's dream - it's still out there and it's still trying to find it's way through," she said.
"Martin Luther King Day is the day when you're supposed to be working and thinking about how to change the world and its present state," said 13-year-old Emma.
She says she's most concerned about inequality in education.
"There still is a lot of segregation in schools just because of where youths are living based on their ethnicity or wealth," she said.
She says she wants better for her world.
"MLK would not be resting right now," she said.
WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs In Glen Cove
Those young and old, black and white sang out praise at Glen Cove's newly dedicated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, and a parade organized by Cheryl Gadine.
"We all have the responsibility of keeping Dr. King's life and his legacy in the forefront, and pass on all of his peaceful philosophies to our children," she said.
Young children led the parade carrying a banner celebrating Dr. King.
"If you don't learn from this you tend to repeat the mistakes, and it's very important for the young children to learn that we're all in this together," said mayor Ralph Suozzi, who proudly marched behind.
All government offices, schools and most banks are closed in observance of the federal holiday. There is no regular mail service and the stock markets are closed.
MTA bus and subway service is running, for the most part, on a regular weekday schedule. The Staten Island Ferry is also running on a regular weekday schedule.
The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North are operating on a holiday schedule with off-peak fares.
NJ TRANSIT is operate on a weekend schedule.
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