BRONZEVILLE — Chicagoans from across the city and beyond came out to the 94th annual Bud Billiken Parade this weekend in Bronzeville.
This year the parade, which started at 10 a.m., spanned its traditional two miles, from 39th Street and King Drive to Washington Park at 5531 S. Martin Luther King Drive, where there were barbecues, picnics and back-to-school giveaways.
An early morning pre-parade breakfast was held at Mandrake Park for people who purchased tickets, while a barbecue luncheon was held at Washington Park from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
This year’s parade theme was “Parading in Peace Block by Block,” with Chicago poet J. Ivy serving as grand marshal. There were also performances from the Jesse White Tumblers, South Shore Drill Team, Empiire Dance Company and other dance groups.
Along the parade route on Saturday, Bronzeville residents cooked on grills, sold sno-cones, jumped rope and danced to tunes played by floats, including DJ Casper’s signature hit “Cha Cha Slide” following his recent death.
Several Bronzeville residents that live along the parade route set up chairs outside their homes and apartment buildings for front row seats to the festivities.
Bronzeville resident Jennifer Amicks, who annually watches the parade from outside her building, said “I don’t miss it.”
Angela Banks, an employee of Pioneer Gardens assisted living facility in Bronzeville, who watched the parade with building residents, said, “I feel like it’s been going on for so long, and we’ve got to keep it going, and I just love to see our African-American people do our thing!”
The Ad Hoc Committee of Proud Black Lesbians and Gays also returned to the route this year. The Black LGBTQ+ organization has made several appearances at Bud Billiken Parades since its first appearance in the parade in 1993.
The group marched on Saturday in honor of the the 30th anniversary of their first time in the parade. In 1993, group members were told they could not march by the Chicago Defender Charities, but with some help from the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, they made it happen.
Tracy Baim, the cofounder and owner of Windy City Times, reported on the event in 1993.
Baim said the Chicago Defender Charities invited the group back to march in this year’s parade. She believes because of the current climate surrounding LGBTQ+ rights nationally, “this kind of visibility continues to be important.”
Other notable appearances at the parade included Mayor Brandon Johnson, local urban historian Sherman “Dilla” Thomas, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Gov. JB Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton.
Affectionately called “The Bud,” the event marks the return of back-to-school season in Chicago, with marching bands, drill teams, schools, businesses, local organizations, politicians, community members and more.
The Bud Billiken Parade is the largest Black parade in the world and the second largest parade in the United States after the Rose Bowl, according to the Bud Billiken website.
Source : Block Club Chicago