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Sat, 08.14.2021

The Bud Billiken Parade, a brief story

*On this date from 1929 the Bud Billiken parade will take place in Chicago. It is the largest African American Parade in the United States.

Always on the second Saturday in August, it began in 1929. The Bud Billiken parade started as a promotional idea through the Chicago Defender newspaper. The paper had a weekly column in the children’s section under the pen name "Bud Billiken." Writer Willard Motley wrote the material and was the original "Bud Billiken." However, Motley’s association with the name Billiken is an off-spring the true origin of the concept.

The Billiken and its representation originated in China. The Chinese consider the Billiken to be a symbol of good luck, and the God of Laughter, Happiness, Merry making and Good Health. The Chinese believed that the presence of the Billiken with his pointed head, pot belly, bat-like ears and whimsical smile, when kept in their homes, would protect and insure a happy, pleasant atmosphere. When worn, it would dispel clouds of trouble and bring joy into life! He was a patron of beauty and guardian angel of children and it is this "Billiken" for which theme of the Bud Billiken Parade was created.

The event originated as a "parade" of news paper delivery boys down what was then called Grand Blvd. into Washington Park for a cook out. Either way, today the Billiken is a legendary character that serves as a symbol of pride, happiness, and hope for young Black people.

The 2008 parade was dedicated to the memory of Chicago resident and comedian Bernie Mac who died on the morning of the event. The Chicago parade attracts hundreds of thousands of people along its route.  In 2020, Covid-19 caused their first cancellation in its 91 year history.  For more information call 312-225-3710.

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