CHICAGO (WLS) -- ABC 7 Chicago and the Chicago Defender Charities have partnered for decades to present Chicago's "back to school" summer tradition, The Bud Billiken Parade.
The parade kicked off Saturday, August 14 at 10 a.m. and ABC 7 captured all the parade highlights with an hour special, "BUD BILLIKEN PARADE: CELEBRATING 92 YEARS."
Cheryl Burton, Jim Rose and Hosea Sanders, who have been part of ABC 7's Bud Billiken tradition in the broadcast booth since 2003, hosted the special, with Terrell Brown and Karen Jordan also contributing.
The special spotlighted Bud Billiken fan favorites including performances by the Jesse White Tumblers and South Shore Drill team as well as spectacular new dance team performances along with WNBA MVP Chicago Sky star and Chicago native, Candace Parker, who served as the 2021 parade grand marshal. One hundred units of marching bands, drum corps and floats dazzled parade goers and viewers alike along with honorary Grand Marshals, Television Personality Bevy Smith, Grammy Award Winning Artist Jonathan McReynolds, Jeremy Joyce from Black People Eats and special guest, NiaKay, the Chicago artist/influencer who rose to fame on LifeTime Television's The Rap Game.
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"BUD BILLIKEN PARADE: CELEBRATING 92 YEARS" also exclusively streamed live on abc7chicago.com and on ABC 7's connected TV Apps on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV and Roku.
ABC 7 President and General Manager, John Idler said, "The history of the Bud Billiken Parade is one that ABC 7 is honored to celebrate every year. Together with the Chicago Defender Charities, we are producing a special that combines a summer celebration with an important back to school message."
According to Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, President and CEO, Chicago Defender Charities, "We are extremely honored that ABC7 Chicago has decided to broadcast the parade this year. The station's decades old commitment to the Chicago Defender Charities and love for the community is invaluable. We are deeply humbled and appreciative to John Idler and of course Hosea, Cheryl and Jim for being constant supporters.
ABC7 Bud Billiken Parade Part 1
While the parade may feel a little different, we are extremely grateful to continue the legacy of black excellence that was started back in 1929 by my great grand uncle Robert Sengstacke-Abbott.
ABC7 Bud Billiken Parade Part 2
In an effort to be safe in the midst of this pandemic, The Chicago Defender Charities asks that everyone wear a mask and practice social distancing while celebrating on King Drive. We are excited to be back to school, back to Bud, and back to life."
The ABC 7 special takes a fascinating historical journey back to the beginnings of the Bud Billiken Parade in the early 1900s, exploring how it grew through the years to become a cherished tradition for generations of Chicagoans.
ABC7 Bud Billiken Parade Part 3
The special also featured Chicago Defender Charities President and CEO Myiti Sengstacke-Rice and Executive Director Marc Sengstacke who showcased the many organizations supported by the Bud Billiken Performing Arts League throughout the year, including the Silent Threat Dance Team.
LaToya Smith took over the Silent Threat Dance Team, after her brother, Verndell Smith, founder of the dance team, was gunned down a block away from his dance studio. The case remains unsolved. LaToya shares her moving story and motivation to carry on Verndell's mission and continue to encourage people with his motto, to 'Stop Shooting, Start Dancing'.
ABC7 Bud Billiken Parade Part 4
Another organization supported by the League is the revitalized project of the late, former ABC 7 Community Affairs Director, Bill Campbell. The project's goal is to train the next generation of budding young TV broadcasters. One of the members of this Media Master Class expounds upon her experience in the class and how it gives students the tools to succeed.
ABC7 Bud Billiken Parade Part 5
The cornerstone of the Bud Billiken Parade has always been education; a way of showcasing the talents of young people and getting them excited to return to school. Going hand in hand with the Chicago Defender Charities focus on education, the charities has awarded $1.5 million in Bud Billiken scholarships to outstanding students. This year's 11 Bud Billiken scholarship recipients, who will be awarded $30,000 in scholarship money, talk about how these awards are helping them to fulfill their educational dreams.
ABC7 Bud Billiken Parade Part 6
ABC7/WLS-TV Chicago is the No. 1 local news source and most-watched television station in Chicago. With top-rated daily newscasts spanning decades and the largest social media presence in the market with more than 2.6 million Facebook followers, ABC7 Eyewitness News provides breaking news, investigative reporting, weather, politics, traffic and sports in the multiplatform space to Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana. Named Best News Operation by the Associated Press for four consecutive years, ABC 7 Eyewitness News produces "Chicago Proud," a series of features that spotlights everyday heroes in and around Chicago. The station also produces the highest-rated New Year's Eve special in Chicago, holiday kickoff special "The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival," syndicated to a national audience, as well as the award-winning program series "Our Chicago," which showcases the city's diversity and highlights contributions in the Black, Hispanic, Asian, LGBTQ+ communities, among others. ABC 7 is the only Chicago station producing and broadcasting parades representing Chicago's rich cultural history. In addition to producing town halls focused on current social issues, the station has a long and proud tradition of broadcasting political candidate debates keeping Chicago's electorate informed. ABC7's outreach efforts include annual partnerships with the Red Cross for life-saving blood drives, one of the biggest one-day drives in the country and, most recently, spearheading an effort to raise more than $1.5 million for area food pantries.