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Bud Billiken Parade, a longtime Chicago tradition, canceled
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Bud Billiken Parade, a longtime Chicago tradition, canceled

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Bronzeville

A woman wearing a protective mask walks across the usually busy Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, Sunday, May 3.

CHICAGO — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of Chicago’s Bud Billiken Parade, a traditional African American back-to-school event for about 90 years, organizers announced Monday.

Tens of thousands of spectators yearly attend the parade, in which similar numbers march through Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood to Washington Park, where picnicking and a music festival takes place.

Bud Billiken is a fictional character that is considered a guardian of children was created in 1923. The parade was originally organized in 1929 by the Chicago Defender newspaper. In the past, the floats and marching bands have been accompanied by such celebrities as Spike Lee and Michael Jordan.

Chicago Defender Charities CEO Myiti Sengstacke-Rice says although the parade won’t take place Aug. 8, as planned, the charity will continue its support of scholarships for graduating high school students.

Gallery: Munster High School graduation parade

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