South Shore Drill Team will not be in Bud Billiken Parade

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For 35 years the South Shore Drill Team have been a Bud Billiken Parade staple, but this year they will be noticeably absent. (WLS)

For 35 years the South Shore Drill Team have been a Bud Billiken Parade staple, wowing parade-goers with their precision and beauty.

But this year the team is choosing not to be part of the annual back-to-school event, and parents of members are angry at parade organizers.

"They need to revisit this and take a look at this," said parent Fletcher Williams.

"It's definitely a slap in the face," said Misha Mondon.

Chicago Defenders Charities, which runs the parade, is undertaking cost-cutting measures for the 2016 parade, including shortening its length. In past years the parade has lasted as long as six hours; this year, organizers say they can't afford such a long event.

"A smaller parade, a shorter parade is a lot more manageable than a larger parade," said Marc Sengstacke, executive director of Chicago Defender Charities.

To achieve that end, organizers have reduced the number of entries and imposed a 100-peron cap on the number of people in each group. For the drill team, that means cutting their head count in half. In the past the drill team has had as many 300 participants in the Bud Billiken Parade.

"You're asking us to do something that a good parent wouldn't do. If you have children, you would not divide your children," said Clifton Underwood, senior advisor for the South Shore Drill team.

So the team says it won't participate unless Bud Billiken officials lift the cap.

"I really hope they reconsider. It would be a big, big, big thing for us. It would mean a lot to the kids," said Roney Nelson, drill team member.

"Because of the current circumstances, we have to apply a rule fairly to everyone. And it's a difficult situation," Sengstacke said.

Instead of marching in the Bud Billiken Parade, the drill team plans to perform on its own Saturday morning at the Gary Comer Youth Center before marching in another parade in the suburbs.
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societybud billikenparadecommunityChicago - South ShoreChicago - Bronzeville
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