Bud Billiken Parade starts back-to-school countdown

August 14, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Schoolchildren will be heading back to school next month.

A lot of adults also used the parade as a stop on their campaign trails with elections looming in the fall.

While some in the parade marched, others simply entertained as Chicago celebrated the rhythm of a summer about to come to an end.

"Everybody loves parades: Young, old, anybody," said spectator Sabina Hernandez.

The nation's oldest and largest African-American parade and picnic stepped off down Martin Luther King Drive, and, as always, it celebrated the importance of education for kids like 8-year-old Isiah Walker.

"I'm a straight-A student, honor roll all the way," said Walker.

This year's grand marshal, Chicago native and senior presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett, helped the event mark its 81st anniversary with well-wishes from President Obama and the first lady.

"The president told me yesterday: When you're the grand marshal of the Bud Billiken, you have really arrived," said Jarrett.

ABC7 had one of hundreds of floats and participants representing the city's diverse cultures.

Julius Echols, a parade participant and former Tuskegee Airman, said that he hopes "all the youngsters will seek their ambition."

The Bud Billiken Parade also featured, as always, an array of cookouts.

"You get a chance to see everyone that you grew up with," said griller Otis Whigham, Jr.

Soaring temperatures once again meant first aid tents and cooling buses were at the ready for anyone who felt the heat and humidity, but some say it was the threat of violence that appeared to keep many of the 1.5 million people expected from attending.

The violence is a reason why rapper turned actor Tyrese said: "Stop being in the moment. It's all emotional reactions and responses to things that happen."

Plenty of politicians were along the parade route. The candidates for governor traded shots.

"We need clean government," said State Sen. Bill Brady, the Republican nominee for governor. "We're gonna stop the insider government of the Quinn administration, and that's what we're gonna do in this election."

"Senator Brady was telling President Obama not to get the money for education for Illinois," said Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who is running for reelection. "I think Senator Brady is all wet."

For most paradegoers, however, the day was just about having fun.

Both the Republican and Democratic candidates in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race were at the parade as well.

While Democratic Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias accused Republican Congressman Mark Kirk of not backing an education and jobs bill, Kirk countered, saying the measure would have increased spending, raised taxes and increased the deficit by $12 billion.

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