The 2021 Bud Billiken Parade and Festival made a big return to Chicago's South Side Saturday, featuring appearances from the Illinois governor and city's mayor.
This year's 92nd annual celebration, which ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the city's Bronzeville neighborhood along 10 blocks, encompassed a "Back to School, Back to Life and Back to Bud Billiken" theme.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot walked along the South Side streets with 125 other groups.
"We're going back to school on Aug. 30, Aug. 30, in-person, five days a week," Lightfoot said. "We spent literally hundreds of millions to make sure that the school environment is safe for our young people."
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Chicago Sky's Candace Parker served as the parade's Grant Marshal, and was joined by rapper Nia Kay, author Bevy Smith and creator of "Black People Eats" Jeremy Joyce as honorary Grand Marshals.
Additional dignitaries included honorary hometown heroes, such as award-winning gospel artist Jonathan McReynolds, Netflix "Beats" actor, Khalil Everage and activist Englewood Barbie.
Other parade guests include McKinley Nelson, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush and Rep. Danny Davis.
The parade asked that adults be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Guests were also encouraged to wear a mask and social distance when possible, the parade said.
Attendees were able to get vaccinated, tested and will be provided with information on vaccines during the festival on the west side of 47th Street and King Drive.
“We have a responsibility to use the platform of the Bud Billiken Parade to educate families on the importance of vaccinations,” says Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, CEO of the Chicago Defender Charities and Bud Billiken Parade Chair. “Safety is always our priority for the parade, and we believe that we can have a great parade for our community while following local and state protocols “
The Bud Billiken Parade is a commemoration of the past and future of the Black community. Since 1929, “The Bud” has united the Black community throughout the city of Chicago in music, dance and food.