Chicago turns out for Bud Billiken Parade

ABC7's Cheryl Burton, Jim Rose And Bill Campbell co-host the parade
More than 1 million people gathered along King Drive for the 79th annual Bud Billiken Parade.

The back-to-school tradition is an annual rite of summer and a must-do for many Chicagoans. Like every year the parade and barbecue reminded kids that back-to-school day is almost upon them, while at the same time, allowing them to enjoy the dozens of floats that make up the parade.

"Every year since I was born, we came out here, every year for 34 years, and we look forward to it every year," said parade spectator Marvea Davis.

The largest African-American parade in the country brought out a slew of politicians, including Governor Blagojevich who answered criticism that funding for Chicago Public Schools is not equal to that of suburban schools.

"I'm calling the legislature in next Tuesday to address the money issue so our kids can all go to good schools," the governor said.

The parade was a star-studded parade, as well. Members of the ABC7 Chicago team rode atop the station's float. Crowds also went crazy over Tyler Perry, who showed up along with the whole cast of his television show.

Basketball's first round draft pick and Englewood High graduate Derrick Rose rode aboard the Chicago Public Schools float.

"Without school, you can do nothing in this society. It gets you to where you want to go," Rose told ABC7 Chicago.

There were also some changes to the parade's organization this year, specifically in terms of safety. Police presence was increased and security barriers were set up all along the parade route.

"The purpose behind those [barriers] is just to keep the kids from charging the floats. They see celebrities, and they get excited and try to charge them. It just gets dangerous," Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis said.

Also unlike last year when vendors were allowed to set up along the parade route, this year, they were limited to the area around Washington Park to make the parade a more organized and enjoyable experience for everyone.

The first day of class is for Chicago Public Schools is September 2.

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