The “Bud” is Back
The “Bud” is Back (Chicago, IL) — The Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic was back this Saturday with a beautiful day packed full of festivities for parade onlookers as the Chicago Defender Charities was able to finally hold their regularly scheduled program of events for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The parade was cancelled in 2020 and they held a shortened event last year. The 93rd Annual Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic hosted a number of dignitaries and other notable figures, performers, and businesses who marched the 2 mile parade route down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
This year’s Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic kicked off with a VIP breakfast at 7 AM in Mandrake Park, which is located in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood. Attendees enjoyed fresh locs and bagels, chicken biscuits, breakfast potatoes, french toast casserole, and some other meatless options while listening to live music and speeches from our Illinois elected officials. Governor JB Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and several other Illinois leaders took to the stage to welcome parade-goers and speak on several key issues such as unity, violence, and community. Later, Mayor Lightfoot addressed some security concerns, and noted that the heavy police presence was only a precaution and that no credible threats to public safety had been found.
Among the dignitaries who attended the breakfast were Dr. Willie Wilson, State Rep. Justin Slaughter, State Rep. Marcus Evans, Alderwoman Pat Dowell, US Rep. Robin Kelly, Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx, Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and a laundry list of others. Assessor Kaegi, who is currently running for reelection to a second term, said he was, “happy to be a part of this tradition yet again.” He narrowly beat out MWRD commissioner Kari Steele in the June Primary Election.
The back-to-school celebration that benefits the Chicago Defender Charities is the largest African-American parade in the United States. Ward 3 Alderwoman Pat Dowell was happy to see the celebration kick off in her district once again, saying that the parade and festivities are, “a celebration of the spirit and tradition in the Black community of uplifting our children before they go back to school.” Dowell has served as 3rd Ward alderwoman since 2007.
Following the conclusion of the VIP breakfast, parade marchers lined up to prepare for the two-mile walk down King Drive, where onlookers watched performances by Parade Grand Marshall Jeremih, several dance groups, marching bands, gymnasts, and other performers as they collected trinkets and candy being distributed through the crowds. The parade ended at Washington Park with a festival.
According to the Bud Billiken website, “Every summer since 1929, “The Bud” has united African-Americans throughout the city of Chicago in music, dance, food, and laughter. It’s one of the only spaces where we can openly and emphatically praise the historic roots that plant us into the South Side of Chicago.” The annual parade, named after a fictional character created by Chicago Defender founder Robert Stengstacke Abbott, began in 1929 as a way to celebrate diversity for the children of Chicago.
The “Bud” is Back