Bud Billiken Parade entertains for 83rd year

August 11, 2012 (CHICAGO)

It was a picture perfect day with a picture perfect parade to go along with it.

"My family, my crowd, the community," said Quenetta Davis. "The community is number one down here."

"It's good for the kids to be a part of it also, we really like it," Helena Covington said.

Bud Billiken is the oldest and largest African American parade in the United States and Saturday, as always, thousands came out to cheer on the floats and spend time with family in what has become a yearly celebration of youth and education.

"Back to school. It's a great way to get started. All my children, family members, we all come," said Marvel Davis.

"Study hard, get ahead, that's how you get ahead in life," said Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. "Family and education and religion. Those are the three things."

There was something for everyone to enjoy. There were the traditional marching bands, and floats, including ABC7's, and then there was a touch of the exotic as a group of camels, zebras and even tigers joined in the parade.

Grand Marshall and deputy assistant to the president, Michael Strautmanis, had a message from the Obamas.

"It's a gorgeous day," he said. "I'm so happy to be here representing the president on the South Side Of Chicago. The president and the first lady asked me to come here and tell everybody, let's have a terrific school year."

And while most children here still have a few more weeks off before going back to school, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who also walked in the parade, alluded to the newly implemented longer school day for the city's public schools

"For the first time in Chicago Public School history we're going to have a full school day and a full school year that is equal to the potential of our children," he said. "We're no longer going to shortchange them."

The parade, as usual, ended in Washington Park, where the picnic followed.

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