Since November 2016, Chicago Defender Charities and the South Shore Drill Team have met to discuss the group’s returning to the Bud Billiken Back to School Parade on August 12, 2017. Event organizers lifted the restrictions on the number of youth who can march with the unit, which was the biggest concern of the team’s Founder and Director Arthur Robertson.
“I’m glad we were able to find a middle ground, and our members were happy to learn they will be back in this year’s parade,” explains Robertson.
Presented by the Chicago Defender Charities, this year marks the 88th year of the Bud Billiken Parade.
Chance the Rapper, is the 2017 Grand Marshall of the Bud Billiken Parade. His younger brother, 21-year-old rapper Taylor Bennett, is the guest of honor on the DuSable Museum parade float. He has been featured on the cover of the Chicago Reader as “the next up in Chicago.” Young Bennett says the whole idea of his music “has always been to bring people together,” and with a welcoming Billiken crowd he hopes to do just that.
Since its founding in 1980, the South Shore Drill Team has become the fan favorite in the annual parade down King Drive. The parade route covers King Drive south from Oakwood Boulevard to 55th street and most members live in neighborhoods near the parade route. When event organizers restricted the number of participants in 2016, the team pulled out rather than pick and choose which children could march. This year the group will march 150 youth, 70 of whom joined the past year.
“Bud Billiken is the event of the year for many of us, it gives us the opportunity to showcase our new uniforms and routines in front of the hometown crowd,” says Madison Martin, a sophomore at Xavier University in Louisiana.
“I am so excited to be back at the Bud Billiken Parade this year,” says team member Kira Rutledge, 18, a recent high school grad who heads to UIC this fall. “We do so many events year round, but this is a special parade in the community that we all look forward to doing.”
Since 2012, team members have achieved 100% high school graduation, and nearly all are in college or technical school. Alumni include teachers, police officers and fire fighters, business managers and entrepreneurs, lawyers, and medical professionals.
South Shore Drill Team uses performing arts to engage youth throughout their critical teenage years, mitigate the dangers of drugs & violence, and guide members towards completing their education.