Bud Billiken

Every August, I feel an overwhelming urge to spend, spend, spend, buying myself a whole new wardrobe with an eye toward new jeans (this month is Simple Living month at my house, though, so I’ve suppressed by urges…for the most part). The desire to spend August buying new jeans stems, I’m certain, from back-to-school shopping sprees with my mom, when we’d spend a whole day browsing and trying things on, and I’d test out who I’d be for the coming year. Shopping is my back-to-school ritual. But, for nearly a million Chicagoans, back-to-school means the Bud Billiken parade.

Where I went to high school (in LaSalle, IL) there was an elderly gentleman, Crazy George, who was well-known for his enthusiasm for participating in, and often leading, any local parade. When I think of “Bud Billiken,” it’s Crazy George who comes to mind. But Bud Billiken was not, in fact, a person (crazy or otherwise) – Bud Billiken is the name for the black youth organization created by Robert S. Abbott on Chicago’s South Side in the early 20’s.

Though the organization was created for African-American youths (and counter Nat King Cole among its members in the early days!), the parade now serves as an opportunity for school-aged kids, their parents, and everyone else on Chicago’s South Side community to come together in celebration of all the opportunities a new school year presents, regardless of race.

This year is the 82nd annual Bud Billiken parade, which ends next door to Hyde Park in Washington Park, and concludes with a picnic that will go well into the evening hours. You can find more information here: http://budbillikenparade.com/, but what you really need to know is that the parade starts tomorrow at 10 and you should be there to support all our community’s children and to give this brutal summer the dramatic send-off it deserves!

Filed under: Hyde Park News

Leave a comment