91st Annual Bud Billiken Parade postponed due to COVID-19; special celebrating parade to air on ABC 7

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The annual Bud Billiken Parade will be postponed this year for the first time due to concerns over COVID-19, however the spirit of the parade will continue in an ABC 7 Chicago Special, "Bud Billiken: Celebrating 91 Years."

"Even though we will miss the anticipation and excitement that comes when the Bud Billiken Parade marches down the streets of Chicago, we are steadfast in our goal to support education and the performing arts," said Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, President and CEO, Chicago Defender Charities. "We are grateful to ABC 7 for making sure that the fun, tradition and spirit of our beloved parade will be carried on through an hour-long special broadcast."

The special will air on August 8 at 1 p.m. and will be hosted by ABC7's Cheryl Burton, Jim Rose and Hosea Sanders.

"The rich legacy of the Bud Billiken parade is a story that needs to be passed on even when faced with the challenges of a pandemic. Together with the Chicago Defender Charities our ABC 7's Bud Billiken special celebrates 91 years of a longstanding summer tradition, spanning generations and continuing to celebrate the importance of education," said ABC 7 President and General Manager, John Idler in a statement.

The first parade began in 1929 to honor newsboys. Founder Robert Sengstacke Abbott created the newsboys band which included musical legends including Nat King Cole and Lionel Hampton.

Hundreds of thousands have lined the parade route with millions viewing festivities on live television. The parade featured dozens of bands, drill teams, marching units, floats and has been attended by President Barack Obama, Chance the Rapper, Rapper T.I, Oprah Winfrey, L.L. Cool J, Spike Lee and Michael Joran-- just to name a few.

The Chicago Defender Charities, producer of the parade, will continue the annual scholarship for graduating high school seniors.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.