Bud Billiken Parade® Steps Off with Family, Food & Fun

8 Aug

It was Grand Boulevard, South Park and now King Drive. Though the name has changed since its beginning, the boulevard is still paved with family, friends and well-wishers for the annual Bud Billiken Parade®. On Saturday, August 9, the Chicago parade marks a milestone of 85 years, celebrating youth and encouraging kids with this back-to-school event. The parade was created by Robert S. Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender, David Kellum editor of the youth section “Billiken,” and editor in chief Lucius Harper. The annual Defender-sponsored parade is held the second Saturday in August. And as the date approaches, the Bronzeville community is making preparations for the second largest parade in the United States.

As the parade steps off on Saturday, you’ll find food vendors, parade parties and picnics along the two-mile route and into Washington Park

Bud Punch is McGill's signature drink for the Bud Billiken Parade

Bud Punch is McGill’s signature drink for the Bud Billiken Parade

where the parade ends. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the parade and a spread of good things to eat with Matt McGill and family since I was a kid. McGill, skilled mixologist and WVON radio personality, fires up the grill for hot dogs, craft beer brats, burgers and chicken. He adds sides of salads, greens, and fruit to the buffet. The food is great, but the signature item is Bud Punch—McGill blends batches of the red beverage as a virgin drink and a stronger sip for guests over 21. He doesn’t divulge the recipe, but did share with ChowChow & Soul™ the following tips for manning the bar when the party’s at your house.

Matt McGill shares tips on making great beverages and his signature Bud Punch.

Matt McGill shares tips on making great beverages and his signature Bud Punch.

Matt’s 10 Tips to Man the Bar

  • Pre-plan, how will you dispense drinks? Consider ease, and the most sanitary options.
  • Are you using a bartender, a self-serve pitcher, cooler or all three?
  • Choose the best option to make it easy on the host.
  • How much alcohol do you want to serve? You have to be judicious about how much booze you’re serving.
  • Standard alcohol servings are 1-1/2 to 2-ozs. If guests will self-serve, invest in bottle pourers which will limit the alcohol to standard servings.
  • Be aware of the age of guests—is everyone who will have access to the beverages 21?
  • Make sure you have enough ice and your beverages will be cold. You don’t want to run out of ice and have to tap someone to make an ice run.
  • Make punch the day of the event unless you are making sangria. Alcohol can overpower mixers and affect the flavor of the punch.
  • Prepare garnishes the day before –lemon, limes, oranges, cherries, olives, etc. Store garnishes in zip-top bags in the refrigerator or cooler.
  • Have a scoop for ice, plenty of serving cups, anti-bacterial hand wipes and napkins on hand.

The Bud Billiken Parade is an iconic community event. Though the parade has grown in size and is now televised across the country, its goal celebrating youth with this back to school step off is something the whole family can enjoy.

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