Dates: August 10, 2013
Location: Martin Luther King Drive; Washington Park- Chicago, IL
Hours: Parade: 10A-3P; Picnic: 3PM - 10PM
Attendance: Parade: 1.8 Million Spectators, Picnic: 150,000
Demographics: African American Families
Beneficiary: Chicago Defender Charities
Theme: Empowerment of youth through education
The Bud Billiken Parade's attendance of 1.5 million spectators and 80,000 participants give it two important rankings:
When you add the 26 million people who view the parade on three national TV networks- the event's importance comes into sharp focus. This is one of the world's premier African American events.
The Parade itself is a two-mile extravaganza that winds it's way through Chicago's South Side ending in Washington Park. More than 80,000 participants march, or ride atop vehicles or ride on one of the 350 imaginative, colorful floats. There are a myriad of marching bands and drill teams and dance troops, as well as an impressive turn out by local and national politicians including Chicago's Mayor, the Illinois Governor, US Senators and Congressmen.
To say that 'everyone who is anyone' participates in the Bud Billiken Parade is an understatement. The historical list of celebrity marchers is long and varied and includes names such as Joe Lewis, Mohammad Ali, Duke Ellington, Oprah Winfrey, Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Hop-Along Cassidy, Lena Horne, Spike Lee, LL Cool J, Michael Jordan, President Harry S. Truman and President Barak Obama.
As the parade funnels into Washington Park, the Picnic officially begins.
This is no ordinary picnic. More than 150,000 people gather to eat, drink, and be entertained by some of the top musical acts in the nation. There is a wide variety of food and merchandise vendors as well as festivities including activities for kids.
Chicago Defender Charities Inc. is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1945. The purpose: to improve the quality of life for African Americans through a variety of educational and philanthropic programs. Anchored by the world-renowned Bud Billiken Day Parade and Picnic, the Charities awards more than $300,000 in college scholarships annually to deserving African American students. It also gives food baskets to more than 2,000 of the city's neediest families at Christmas and feeds five homeless shelters at Thanksgiving. In addition, the Charities makes direct contributions in excess of $50,000 to organizations serving inner-city youth.