Bud Billiken Parade in Chicago

August 8, 2009 8:53:28 PM PDT
The day started out cloudy and cool at the 80th annual Bud Billiken Day Parade, the largest African-American parade in the country. However, things heated up quickly, in temperature and in the race for Cook County Board president.Chicago residents and visitors cheered for the celebrated Bud Billiken Parade.

"Everybody comes to Chicago and goes to Michigan Avenue or the lake. This is different. I like it," said Matt Osbourne, who attended parade.

"This is my first time coming to the parade. I'm with my sister and the kids. I'm enjoying the parade, and it's beautiful," parade attendee Phyllis Gamble said.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was this year's grand marshal of the nation's oldest and largest African-American parade and picnic. The event marked its 80th anniversary by honoring its proud tradition while acknowledging the city's diverse neighborhoods.

One spectator, Marvell Davis, and his family have been coming to the Billiken for years.

"It's just a family tradition. The kids are going back to school. [It's] black unity, black pride," Davis said.

Along with the hundreds of floats and entries, there were also the cookouts and celebrities.

"You can come back. We got hot links, smoked sausage, and tilapia also," one griller told the ABC7 crew.

"I'm grateful. The Bud Billiken parade, I did it last year and again this year," said R&B singer Benone.

Plenty of politicians were along the parade route, as well. U.S Congressman Danny Davis confirmed his plan to run for president of the Cook County Board against his friend and current county Board leader Todd Stroger.

"There is a need for new leadership in county government," said Representative Davis, a Democrat.

"We've been doing what we are supposed to do, and that's all you can tell the people," Stroger said.

More than 1.5 million people were expected to attend the parade, despite a forecast of high temperatures. First aid tents and cooling buses were set up for those who felt the heat and humidity but refused to miss Chicago's storied back-to-school event.

"I went from no shades to shades and a hat and drinking lots of water," said spectator Carmen Killingsworth.

Chicago Fire Department officials did respond to roughly 27 incidents of people dealing with heat and asthma and several other conditions. They reportedly had to transport five people away from the parade. Four of those individuals were suffering from heat-related illness. One police officer was taken from the scene suffering from minor injuries.

Saturday afternoon, Chicago police were on the scene at Washington Park for a post-parade picnic. Authorities were trying to get people to move out of the park to make sure the festivities remained safe as temperatures cooled and evening approached.


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