Bud Billiken Parade Returns to Chicago This Summer

Getty Images

The Bud Billiken Parade, canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, is returning to Chicago this summer, organizers have announced.

The 92nd Annual Bud Billiken Parade will take place at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14, Chicago Defender Charities, which produces the annual event, said in a statement.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and others will march in the traditional African American back-to-school event that the organization called "the largest Black parade in the world and the second largest parade in the country."

Tens of thousands of spectators yearly attend the parade, in which similar numbers march through Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood to Washington Park, where picnicking and a music festival takes place.

While it will return this year after last summer's cancellation (the first in the event's nine decades), the parade will be abbreviated due to the pandemic, organizers said. It will take place in Washington Park on Elsworth Drive from 51st to 55th streets and will be produced in a "closed tv-set" format.

The festival will still take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Washington Park with food, activities, entertainment and giveaways for student participants.

COVID testing, wellness checks, masks if required and social distancing will be implemented as new health and safety protocols, organizers said, with contingency plans in place.

"There have been nine decades of youth empowerment and nearly a century of traditions that instill the values of education, heritage and community. After coming together for over 90 years at the Bud Billiken Parade, I am immensely grateful to have another parade," President and CEO of the parade and the Chicago Defender Charities Myiti Sengstacke-Rice said in a statement.

Bud Billiken is a fictional character that is considered a guardian of children was created in 1923. The parade was originally organized in 1929 by the Chicago Defender newspaper. In the past, the floats and marching bands have been accompanied by such celebrities as Spike Lee and Michael Jordan.

Contact Us