Billiken chairman talks about Chicago's biggest parade

August 7, 2008 7:48:28 PM PDT
More than one million people are expected to attend the annual Bud Billiken Parade this weekend. For the last two decades, Retired Colonel Eugene Scott has played a large role in making sure this longtime Chicago tradition continues to honor its original mission of celebrating young African Americans.

This Saturday, a Chicago institution and the city's biggest parade of the year, the Bud Billiken Parade celebrates its 79th year. For Retired Colonel Eugene Scott, it will be his 20th year as the events chairman.

Sponsored by the Chicago Defender Charities, the parade was created by the newspaper's founder Robert Abbott.

"The founder of the newspaper and his editor thought it would be a great idea to reward the news boys...just these boys who had been doing a lot of hard work and getting the paper out. So they come up with the idea to have a parade and a picnic in the park," said Col Eugene Scott, chairman Bud Billiken Parade.

The very first Bud Billiken participants marched down Michigan Avenue to 55th Street. Now the route is King Drive. Who is Bud Billiken?

"He's a character that represents young people. That's what Bud Billiken is. It's all about young people. Initially Bud Billiken was the guardian of young people and that's where the name came from. But today it sort of a character that represents young African Americans in our community," said Scott.

The first parade had 30 entries. On Saturday, 320 groups will participate and more than 1 million spectators are expected to line the parade.

"I believe in our community," said Col. Scott. "I wanna preserve out community...institutions and events in our community that tell the history. So deep inside I have a very strong feeling for the Bud Billiken parade...and what it represents. "


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