The Bud Billiken Parade, an annual back-to-school tradition, attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood. Known as “The Bud,” it has been celebrating and showcasing the city’s youth since 1929, making it the largest African-American parade in the country and the second largest overall, second only to the Rose Parade in California.
This year marked the 94th anniversary of the parade, with the theme “Parading in Peace Block by Block.” The event aims to promote culture, education, and empowerment as Chicago Public Schools prepare to start the new school year.
The parade holds a special place in the hearts of many attendees, with families passing down the tradition through generations. Joan Curtis, who has been attending the parade for 72 years, recalls her mother bringing them and instructing them not to move. Nicole Johnson also cherishes the tradition, starting with her mother and now bringing her own grandkids.
For the Sengstacke family, organizing the parade has been a four-generation endeavor. The event not only brings joy and happiness to the community, but it also highlights the talents of the city’s youth and promotes education. Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, President and CEO of Chicago Defender Charities, emphasized the collaboration with organizations like My Block, My Hood, My City, and the involvement of volunteers such as Jamal Cole.
The parade commenced at 10 a.m. from 39th and King Drive, stretching two miles through Bronzeville and culminating in a post-celebration in Washington Park at 55th Street.
The Bud Billiken Parade serves as a vibrant celebration of Chicago’s youth, fostering a sense of unity and readiness for the upcoming school year.