It’s that time again for one of Chicago’s most iconic events – the Bud Billiken® Parade & Picnic. Held on the 2nd Saturday in August
-- rain or shine -- since 1929, this year’s parade takes place on Saturday,
August 11 along historic Martin Luther King Drive.
Presented by Chicago Defender Charities, the non-profit organization led by retired Colonel Eugene Scott, the 2012 grand marshal is Michael Strautmanis, deputy assistant to President Obama. A Chicago native and friend to the Obamas, Strautmanis was tapped by the president as his surrogate after a scheduling conflict prevented the president from serving as grand marshal.
An annual rite of summer, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single Black person who grew up in Chicago that doesn’t have a cherished Bud
Billiken® memory. It is an event that is woven into the fabric
of the city. The oldest African American parade in the nation, since
it began more than 70 million children and their families have made the day a celebration of community, culture, and the accomplishments of youth. Most of all, it’s a day to get excited about going back to school. Always focused on education, this year’s theme is “Education:
Built to Last, A Tribute to President Barack Obama.”
According to Colonel Scott, in addition to the back to school parade, The Charities provides several educational alternatives year-round for
disadvantaged youth and young adults to help reduce violence in the
community. Among the opportunities there’s vocational training, military service, college and university education, and sustainable futures training.
On Bud Billiken Day, the community rises early to claim their spaces along the parade route. Stoops and porches are transformed into snowball stands and grilling stations. Streetpreneurs gather with blow up toys and balloons, roasted peanuts, cotton candy, ice cream and water for sale.
By the time the parade steps off at 10 a.m. with the King College Prep Marching Band leading the way, people will line Martin Luther King Drive to cheer on colorful floats, marching bands, precision drill teams and majorettes. As always, the Billiken® King and Queen and the Royal Court will be there along with Disney’s only African American princess, Princess Tiana, the Boy Scouts of America, and much more -- witnessed by millions along the parade route and broadcast live over ABC7-Chicago and WCIU-TV Channel 26.
Pack a picnic basket, a chair, sun hat and plenty of water. It's Bud Billiken time in Chicago!!!
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