2021 Bud Billiken celebration coming this summer to Washington Park

ByEvelyn Holmes and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, June 3, 2021
Bud Billiken is back this summer!
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After being canceled because of the pandemic, the 92nd Bud Billiken event will return this summer to Chicago's South Side on August 14.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Bud Billiken celebration is returning this summer!

After being canceled because of the pandemic, the 92nd year of the event will return this summer to Chicago's South Side on August 14.

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"I was really excited because we didn't get to do it last year," dance troupe member Zaniya Cribbs said.

The Chicago Defender Charities, which produces the event, said it will be a modified version with an abbreviated route that will still feature a family festival in Washington Park.

"There will be a lot of emphasis on the festival, which gives the kids plenty to do and to prepare them to go back to school," said Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, president and CEO, Chicago Defender Charities.

There will be food, activities and entertainment for all ages and giveaways, and new this year, a vaccination tent at the iconic even marking the end of summer.

Organizers say they are hopeful the sponsors and donors responsible for helping to pay for what could be the $500,000 cost of the Bud return. The signature event is the main fundraiser for the organization's annual programming.

"So if our biggest source of income is taking a hit, then all of our programming and others' annual programming that actually supports these organizations is also taking a hit as well," said Antwan Anderson, Bud Billiken parade coordinator.

ABC7 is planning to air a special of highlights from this year's Bud Billiken event the following weekend, Aug 21.

Like in years past, the Bud will feature a family and community theme but will also honor longtime participant Verndell Smith, the 32-year-old dance troupe instructor who was gunned down last month.

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"Being that it's going to be centered around helping the youth, which is what he wanted to do through stopping violence, it gives me a glimmer of hope," said LaToya Smith, his sister.

But for both 15-year-old Zaniya Cribbs and Cornelius Patton - members of Smith's Silent Threat dance troupe, it's about making him proud.

"It ain't going to be the same anymore, like having someone else coach us," Patton said.

For more information, visit www.budbillikenparade.org.