The Bud Billiken Parade is one of the most massive annual events in Chicago, Illinois. Held every year on the second Saturday in August, the parade goes along Dr. Martin Luther King Drive (East 35th-55th Streets), then goes through Bronzeville and Grand Boulevard finishing in the historic Washington Park with a large picnic and a festival.
The parade was named after Bud Billiken, a fictional character created by Robert S. Abbott, the founder of the Chicago Defender in 1923 to inspire local black youth and fill them with pride and hope for a better future. The first parade took place in 1929 as a celebration of youth, education and African-American heritage. Held in mid-August, the event also marked the end of summer vacations and resuming of school for children and youth.
Bud Billiken parade attracts many celebrities, politicians, beauty queens, musicians, and actors. Past participants included U.S. President Harry S. Truman, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Joe Louis, Duke Ellington, Oprah Winfrey, Diana Ross, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Paul Robeson, Chaka Khan and Billie Holiday. There are dozens of marching and dancing groups, as well as colourful floats. But in addition to exceptional music, dance, food, and fun, the parade is the tribute to the historical roots of the African American community in the South Side of Chicago.