Just this past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of the largest African-American parade and the 2nd largest parade in the US! The Bud Billiken Parade is into it’s 80th year this summer and it’s a great opportunity for underprivileged children to showcase their talents & be in the limelight. It’s also been a long-standing tradition to celebrate the summer school holidays coming to an end and to gear kids up for the start of a brand new school year.
I was there with a HVX200 in hand to film the participants of Project Green Heals Chicago making their march down the road together with the Chicago Public Schools contingent. We were there loud and proud to spread the message of going green to the 1.5 million people who came out to watch the parade and show their support! Mayor Daley was on board the float that spearheaded the entire parade of over 75,000 participants.
It was also my first time participating in a major African-American event and it was truly great getting to learn more about the culture. I loved how families just lined the street for what seemed to be 15 to 20 blocks, armed with picnic baskets, lawn chairs, bbq grills and the company of their loved ones. Lotsa ice-cream/refreshment sellers people selling Michael Jackson/Barack Obama souvenirs took the chance to come out as well. I could really feel the spirit and the soul of the event watching students put their hearts into their performances. With so many marching bands, dance groups, socially conscious organizations and colorful floats out, it was wonderful entertainment for everyone along Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Drive that day. :)
I love how there’re such events to empower the youth. I’m sure it was a breath of fresh air for the residents in the south side of Chicago. I’ve only been down south a handful of times, so I took the chance to slow down & take in the sights around me. While the residential buildings were beautiful, it’s hard to imagine what life must be like living there with only 1 bus service serving the neighborhood and the nearby grocery store looking rather run down. Wish i had the chance to stay a little longer to see what life’s like without the parade, to take a moment to talk to people and do some reflection. Either way, it was a great chance for me to step outside of the Northwestern/Evanston bubble and i’m certain it won’t be my last. :)