Bud Billiken Parade: School Employees Forced To Attend?

The Bud Billiken Parade, besides being the oldest and largest African-American parade in Chicago, serves as a reminder to kids that it's almost time to head back to school.

Last Saturday was the 84th year that the parade has taken place; this time in front of thousands of spectators who lined King Drive in Chicago.

Cassandra Walker watched the parade with her children and grandchildren and dozens of family members.

"I come every year," she said. "It's a family thing, and I enjoy the fact that they do this. It motivates the kids. It's something to look forward to. The high school bands — oh, my God. These kids are so good."

Many school workers, employed by the city, joined the parade.The Chicago Sun-Times reported that school central office employees received a memo from Robert Boik, the system's chief of staff, on Friday telling them they had to.

"All salaried exempt employees should plan to attend the parade and walk with the CPS float. If you are unable to do so, you must inform your cabinet-level officer," Boik said.

Some school employees said they regarded the memo as an order. But a schools spokeswoman said the email was "misinterpreted" and attendance was not required.

Monique Baker, a mother of five, was excited to have her kids see the parade for the first time. She grew up in Bronzeville and spent years moving around the country before moving back to the city.

"This is a Chicago thing," she said. "And this is their first time. So I'm so happy."

And now the preparations begin for the 85th Bud Billiken Parade next year.