Bud Billiken Parade: Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles to feed 800 police officers working parade route

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Bud Billiken parade celebrates 90 years this weekend. Since 1929, Chicagoans have marched down what is now King Drive through Bronzeville and into Washington Park on the city's south side.

The parade celebrates the end of summer and educating kids, but there is one Bronzeville restaurant that is using the event to build community in a different way.

It's been said that food is a universal language that often creates a common ground.

Perhaps no one knows that better than the folk's at Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles, as they once again prepare to participate in the city's iconic parade, in their own unique way.

They will feed more than 800 Chicago police officers assigned to the parade route this weekend.

The restaurant has been doing this quietly for the past 11 years with one goal- to build community.

Tonya Johnson, who owns the restaurant with her husband, said it's something they do from the heart ever since opening their doors in 2008.

"So we decided that this was something that needed to be done so we could let the police know you are a part of our community, you are important to us and we do appreciate the work that you do," said Johnson.
To date, the eatery has cooked and given away more than 12,000 pieces of chicken to the cops working the parade.

"Because of our title, because of our uniform, people don't see the humanity that we offer as a service to the community," said Sgt. Yolanda Walton, Chicago Police Department.

The restaurant's cooks will come in early Saturday morning, frying up some 1,500 pieces of chicken.

For the past 3 years, the process has been overseen by Jessica Spiceson. After losing her 52-year-old husband Henry Daniels to gun violence in June, she now shares a special bond with the Chicago Police Department.

"My Chicken & Waffles family and the community family is what's helping me to cope with my situation because they are showing so much love," said Spiceson.
They hope that love - through food - will help inspire the community.

"I think food represents love. I think food represents unity," said Johnson.

In addition to feeding police officers, the restaurant donates to block clubs throughout the area during the parade.

The parade will broadcast live Saturday, August 10th, from 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on ABC 7, abc7chicago.com, and the ABC7 News App. After the parade airs, the entire broadcast will be available on-demand at abc7chicago.com.
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