Thousands flock to annual Bud Billiken Parade on Chicago’s South Side

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CHICAGO -- The annual Bud Billiken Day Parade got underway Saturday morning in Bronzeville.

Thousands of people gathered along the two-mile-long parade route that began at King Drive and Oakwood Avenue and traveled south on King Drive to 51st Street and ended in Washington Park.

One of the parade's biggest groups was missing this year.

The South Shore Drill Team pulled out of the parade this weekend because of a new rule.

Each group is now limited to 100 people, but the drill team had more than 240 members in the parade last year.

A spokesperson said all the kids look forward to performing for their family and friends and it would be unfair to exclude anyone.

The largest African-American parade in the U.S. was founded in 1929 and aims "to provide underprivileged youth with the chance to be in the limelight," according to the parade's website.

The goal is to get students excited to go back to school.

The Chicago Defender Charities organizes the parade, which is limited to 175 groups this year.

This year's grand marshal was Katherine Branch, director of special projects in the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House.

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