By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An estimated 85,000 volunteers participated in more than 1,300 services projects today as part of the Greater Philadelphia Area Martin Luther King Day of Service.

At the signature event at Girard College — once a whites-only institution — the day started with entertainment, including a blues band, a colorful dragon dance, singing, and excerpts from Dr. King’s speeches.

At 9am, opening ceremonies featured comments from vice president Joseph Biden about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

“Where have we come, from 47 years ago, when he stood outside of the gate of Girard College?” Biden asked the crowd.  “Look around — not only is there an African-American female president of this institution, but there are thousands of you on this campus.”

When the fanfare was over, the vice president, Mayor Michael Nutter, and police chief Charles Ramsey got to work with hundreds of other volunteers on one of the largest projects: packing tens of thousands of meals for families living in disaster areas.

Philadelphia’s King Day of Service is the largest event of its kind in the United States.