Going to the Bud Billiken 2022 show? Here’s what you need to know.
Dubbed “The Bud,” the parade has been a back-to-school celebration and showcase for Chicago’s young talent since 1929. For four generations, the Sengstacke family has staged what they say is the largest African-American parade in the states. United States and the second largest parade in the United States after the Rose Parade.
Hundreds of thousands of spectators and generations of families will gather along the two-mile route in Bronzeville on Saturday to cheer on a variety of performers – bands, dance and drill teams, goblets and cheerleaders – and watch honorary grand marshals and celebrities ride in style in tanks and classic cars. And thousands of school supplies and other gear will be distributed in Washington Park after the parade.
At least a million more are expected to watch the parade live stream from 10 a.m. to noon on WLS-Ch. 7 and abc7chicago.com.
- Time and date: 10 a.m., Saturday, August 13.
- Location: Bronzeville.
- Itinerary: The parade begins at the intersection of East Pershing Road (39th Street) and South King Drive and heads south to Washington Park.
- Festival: As in previous years, a family fair called will take place after the parade in Washington Park and will remain open until 4 p.m.
Car park: The seats are limited. Carpooling or public transport is recommended.
Chicago Transit Authority: The green line is your best bet; exit at the 43rd Street, 47th Street or 51st Street stops and walk east towards the route. If you’re taking the Red Line, exit at the 47th Street stop. Take the #47 bus east and get off at Prairie Avenue; the parade is two blocks east. Details of additional bus and train services are available on the CTA website.
Arrive early to find a good spot along the 2-mile parade route. Candy, school supplies and gifts will be available in Washington Park after the parade.
Can’t be at the parade? At least a million more are expected to watch a live broadcast from 10 a.m. to noon on WLS-Ch. 7 and abc7chicago.com.
- Grand Marshal: jeremihR&B singer
- Honorary Grand Marshals: Brett Hartpresident of United Airlines; General Rodney Boydcommander of the Illinois National Guard; Cheryl Greenpresident of Governors State University; Dorri McWhorterPresident and CEO of the Chicago Metropolitan YMCA; Sanja Rickette Stinsonfounder and CEO of Matthew House; Mark Edmond, Jamuel Lewis and Charles Alexanderfounders of Black Bread Co.
The Chicago Defender was founded in 1905 by Robert Sengstacke Abbott.
In 1924, Abbott hosted a picnic for five of his publication’s newsboys.
The first parade took place on August 11, 1929, when Abbott wanted to thank the children who peddled his newspaper on street corners. He couldn’t think of a better way than to give them what they loved: ice cream, hot dogs and a day outdoors.
In 1921, Abbott launched Defender Junior, a page in his weekly devoted to children. It grew to include a club, attracting children from across the United States and Africa and serving as an alternative to Boy Scouts in response to segregation at the time.
Bud Billiken, the page’s fictional editor/mascot described as the guardian and protector of children, was invented by Abbott and Defender editor Lucius Harper. Depending on which authority you ask, either the two found the word “billiken” in a dictionary or Harper had a carving of it on his desk.
Additional note: Lucky figurines called billikens were a craze in popular culture in the early 1900s. Kansas City art teacher Florence Pretz created the stocky little lucky creature – a cross between a Kewpie doll and a Buddha figure – and for a moment the mischievous-looking “god of things as they should be” was all the rage. The Billiken Company of Chicago made dolls, banks, figurines, and other memorabilia in his likeness.
Many personalities have participated in the parade since its inception. Here are a few:
- Politicians and civic leaders: The two Daley mayors; Reverend Jesse Jackson; Barack Obama, both senator and US president; President Harry Truman; and Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington.
- Facilitators: James Brown, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Chaka Khan, Spike Lee, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Oprah Winfrey and Chance the Rapper.
- Athletes: Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Candace Parker, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens and Floyd Patterson.
Sources: Chicago Defender Charities; Grandstand archives and photos