Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic

Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic
Photo: budbillikenparade.org
The Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic, also known as the Bud Billiken Day Parade, is an annual parade that takes place in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1929, it is the largest African-American parade in the United States.

Bud Billiken is a fictional character created in 1923 by Robert S. Abbott, the founder and publisher of The Chicago Defender newspaper. Abbot came up with the idea of the character while considering adding a youth section to his newspaper. It was named after the Billiken, the guardian angel of little children according to Chinese legend. During the Great Depression, Bud Billiken became a symbol of pride, happiness and hope for Chicago’s black residents.

Although Bud Billiken was created in 1923, the annual parade did not begin until 1929. It was initiated by David Kellum who worked under Abbott. The parade was created as a celebration of the unity in diversity for the children of Chicago designed to provide underprivileged youth with the chance to be in the limelight.

The inaugural Bud Billiken Parade took place on August 11, 1929. Since then, it has become the second largest parade in the United States. The colorful procession includes beautifully decorated floats, dozens of marching, dancing and tumbling groups, musical performers, celebrities, beauty queens, politicians, businessmen, youth groups, and civic organizations. A notable figure, typically an entertainer or a politician, is invited each year to serve as Grand Marshal.

The parade features a number of contests for participants such as best marching band and best float. Since 1940, each installment of the parade has had a theme chosen by the parade committee.

The Bud Billiken Parade is held on the second Saturday in August, marking the impending beginning of the new school year. It takes place in the Bronzeville/Washington Park neighborhood of Chicago. The parade route has changed over the years. As of 2017, the parade starts at King Drive at Oakwood Blvd. and ends at Garfield Blvd. (55th St.) and Elsworth Dr. It kicks off at 10 am and ends at 4 pm. The parade is followed by a picnic held in Washington Park.

Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic

Photo: I dabble




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