Bud Billiken Pulls the Crowd

Chicago Defender's Kai EL'Zabar, Executive  Editor and Cheryl Mainor, Publisher wave to the crowd.
Chicago Defender’s Kai EL’Zabar, Executive Editor and Cheryl Mainor, Publisher wave to the crowd. photo credit: Malrie Sonier

86th Annual Bud Billiken Pulls the Crowd

In the tradition of the Bud Billiken Parade the  2015  86th annual event thousands turned out to cheer the parade on.  Since 1929 the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic  has taken  place the second weekend  of August attracting thousands of viewers. Today it boasts as the largest African American Parade, the 2nd largest parade in the U.S. and the largest back-to-school parade.

The day began with the sun shinning and a breakfast hosted by the Chicago Defender Charities  and true to form the political dignitaries, corporate leaders, educators, non for profit administrators and the youth were all present.  There was a whole lot of  networking  going on before the parade began. Some of the notables in attendance were, Dr. Wayne Watson, President  of Chicago State  University, Peggy Montes, Treasurer Kurt Summers, Commissioner Toni Preckwinkle, Commissioner Richard Boykin, Congressman Danny Davis, Congressman Bobby Rush, Larry Huggins of Riteway-Huggins Construction, Everett Rand of Midway Airport Concessionaire,  Rev. Jesse Jackson of PUSH, Morris Smith and Kathleen Strand of Coca Cola, George Daniels, Georges Music Room, State Reps, La Shawn Ford, Mary Flowers,  Jacqueline Collins, Camille Lilly, Ken Dunkin, Alderman Howard Bookins, William Burns, Governor Pat Quinn, Bob Fioretti, Art Sims, Midge Kimberly, and Presidential candidate Willie Wilson shook hands, took photos with and exchanged conversation throughout the day.

Bud Billiken was a fictitious  character that founding publisher Robert Abbott created in 1927  as the protector of children and at the same time encourage, inspire and promote their interest in education. The first parade kicked off August 11, 1929 children, to remind kids that it’s almost back to school time and help them get in the school state of mind.  Chicago Public Schools start classes exactly one month away on September 8 this year. You can view it at any time

Despite the parade’s emphasis on children, there were plenty of adults lining King Drive for miles as the Royal Court of the Bud Billiken King and Queen, politicians, marching bands,  drill teams stepped, dancers danced,  in the streets  the floats rolled down ML King Drive and ABC Channel 7 broadcast live! 

he Chi-Town Cheerleaders at the Bud Billiken Parade August 8th, 2015, Chicago.
he Chi-Town Cheerleaders at the Bud Billiken Parade August 8th, 2015, Chicago.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel shook hands with the crowd. Candidate for U.S Senate Andrea Zopp walked the parade with an  impressive entourage and visible banners along King Drive,  Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown brought hundreds to march with her as the crowd whooed them all. 
The Chicago Defender newspaper represented and styled in a beautiful white convertible Camaro compliments of Rogers dealership Chicago as Publisher Cheryl Mainor and Executive Editor Kai EL’ Zabar greeted the crowd with waves, hello’s, thank you’s and thrown kisses.  They felt the love.
Back at the Defender offices VIP guests in the hundreds viewed the parade, wined, dined, mixed mingle and shared in stimulating conversation, hot political debate and scorching dialog. It truly was the place to be.


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