Chicago's Bud Billiken Parade returns to South Side with emphasis on safety

The South Side celebration, said to be the largest African American parade in the country, dates back to 1929

Saturday, August 13, 2022
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The Bud Billiken Parade is a two-and-a-half-mile celebration on Chicago's South Side that dates back to 1929.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Bud Billiken Parade is a two-and-a-half-mile celebration on Chicago's South Side that dates back to 1929.

"Everybody looks forward to this parade because it is all about family and tradition. It's our culture. We are celebrating each other," said Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, with Chicago Defender Charities.

After a smaller version last year due to the pandemic, this year's festivities will feature some 200 marching bands, dance groups and drill teams, as well as other performers.

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"I am real excited. It is a big opportunity. I have been watching the Bud since I was a little," parade participant Earl Allen said.

This parade comes more than a month after the Fourth of July tragedy in Highland Park when a shooter fired at parade-goers from a rooftop.

With possibly hundreds of thousands of people along the parade route Saturday, which starts at 39th & King, emergency officials want to calm any safety concerns.

"We canvas areas of the city that we know that are going to be impacted by large events," said Rich Guidice, with the Office of Emergency Management & Communications.

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Guidice is also encouraging attendees to do their part by being aware of their surroundings.

"We talk a lot about building a culture of preparedness and making sure that you are prepared to walk in large crowds," he said.

Organizers describe it as the largest African American parade in the country.

RELATED: Looking back on the history of the Bud Billiken Parade

"I want everyone to come out and have a good time," Sengstacke-Rice said.

The parade is just part of the Bud Billiken fun Saturday, with the setup is underway in Washington Park for a festival.

Attendees will receive free back-to-school supplies, haircuts and hair braiding. There will also be several companies and organizations with booths.

"It is very important. This is the first time Kellogg's has been participating in this Bud Billiken parade and it's good for us to comment with all communities in which we serve," said Roger Corbin with Kellogg's.

Bud Billiken is just one of some 80 weekend events, which include the Bears' preseason opener at Soldier Field and and neighborhood festivals, like Retro on Roscoe and the return of Little Italy Festa.

"This is the essence of what the old Italian block parties used to be. Everybody used to come out of their homes with their own food, share it with their neighbors," said Little Italy Festa. organizer, Ron Onesti.