By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
On Saturday, August 27, 2016, the Englewood community will celebrate the 54th anniversary of the “Englewood Back To School Parade,” with Education Is The Key To The Future as the theme. Each year the parade continues to set the bar for a family fun, peaceful celebration in the community. The “Englewood Back To School Parade” continues to be a part of Chicago’s rich history, as well as Englewood’s rich cultural history.
The parade is not just an ordinary gathering, it is a grandiose celebration of the community, leaders and supporters of Greater Englewood. The parade continues to be more robust and widely celebrated as participation grows each year with more than 4,000 attendees, including local celebrities and dignitaries, flocking to the South Side of Chicago.
The history of the parade dates back to 1963 when the honorable Willie Pittman wanted to give the youth of Englewood an alternative to gangs and negative influences. The forming of The Central Englewood Drum and Bugle Corps at 65th and Green streets was the first step. Its members practiced after school by marching along Peoria and Morgan. After the decline of violence, Pittman saw a greater opportunity for the community, and to our advantage the Central Englewood Drum and Bugle Corps was renamed and the “Englewood Back To School Parade” was born. The parade was created by Pittman to mobilize hope and to encourage the youth to stay in school and pursue education, thus developing the theme, “Education Is The Key To The Future.”
After a two-year cessation, Nicole Vaughn and Maurice “Pha Tal” Perkins successfully revived the “Englewood Back to School Parade” on August 23, 2014, for its 52nd year. The Englewood Back to School Parade is the second oldest African-American parade in the city. This event has always been a jewel in the community that promotes a day of peace, as well as pride and to show the masses that there is “Good in Englewood.”
“As a kid growing up, I was a participant in this parade. It was very personal and important to me that this great tradition lived on. That’s why I worked hard to restore the parade, because it brings the community together and it aids in restoring that sense of pride back into this rich community,” said Nicole Vaughn, parade coordinator. “This is one day that we come together in the name of peace and encourage our kids to stay in school.”
This year’s parade will have a surprise guest Grand Marshal, award-wining performances from local Chicago artists and community vendors. Attendees will receive free food, free back-to-school supplies and much more.
Parade sponsors include: The Englewood Square, Teamwork Englewood, We R Englewood, Greater Englewood CDC, U.S. Bank, Marquette Bank, White Castle, Black McDonald’s Operators Association, WKKC 89.3 FM, 107.5 WGCI, V103, Inspiration 1390AM, Leading Ladies of Chicago, Ogden Park Advisory Council, Disparti Law Group, Howard Brown Health 63rd St., Chicago Public Schools Leadership Learning, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Whole Foods, NTruth, Cortri Trotter Productions and I Grow Chicago.
The parade schedule:
8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. (Day of Registration).
10:30 a.m. Parade processional; 56th and Halsted (south on Halsted) then west on 67th Street to Throop.
11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Parade finale and celebration at Ogden Park, 6500 S. Racine Ave.
For more information, contact the Englewood Back To School Parade Committee:
Nicole Vaughn (773) 619-7247; Sandra Streeter (312) 288-5935; email@example.com.
The Englewood Back To School Parade Committee is always “Focusing on the Possibilities not the Circumstances.”