(AP, ABC7) - District of Columbia residents and anyone else who wants to will have a chance to visit the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington before it is officially dedicated.
The Washington Post reports that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said Monday that officials had an overwhelming demand for tickets for a preview day for city residents. As a result, residents won't be the only ones who get to sneak a peek at the memorial on Aug. 23. Gray says no tickets will be needed and that anyone who comes to the memorial site that day between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. will be allowed to see it.
The official dedication of the memorial for the late civil rights leader is Aug. 28. President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak.
Archbishop George Stallings of Imani Temple criticizes the timing of the ceremony, complaining that churchgoers will have to miss church to attend the dedication.
"I think it was insensitive for the part of the organizers," Stallings said.
Another D.C. pastor, the Rev. Herbert Brisbon of Ebenezer United Methodist Church says he too is planning go to church but considers putting up a large screen to show the dedication ceremony.
The mall ceremony will be the conclusion of a busy week at the convention center that will hold luncheons and concerts as well as the site of a gala.
A civil rights-style march will take place and the city's tourism bureau is anticipating hundreds of thousands of visitors for the events.