Celebrating Back to School with Our Communities

Committed to local communities, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois sponsored the 88th annual Bud Billiken Parade, the largest African-American parade in the nation.

Honoring Legacy in the African American Community

For Chicago area students, the second Saturday in August marks the beginning of back-to-school season as signaled by the Bud BillikenTM Parade, the largest African American parade and second largest parade in the United States.

The Bud Billiken Parade, which celebrated its 88th year in 2017, takes place in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is a longstanding sponsor of this event that offers us the opportunity to help increase awareness of the importance of education, health literacy and safety in the communities we serve.

The Bud Billiken Parade is an excellent event to get children ready for back to school and educate them on the importance of health. Nyree Smith - Blue Corps℠ Volunteer


In 2017, BCBSIL sponsored a float which celebrated “Hometown Heroes” – our neighbors, friends and community partners that share our commitment to helping make a healthier Chicago. The BCBSIL Care Van® also took part in the parade as a reminder for parents to make sure that their children receive the required immunizations and wellness exams they need to start the new school year. Check out a few highlights from the parade in this video.

More than 100 Blue Corps volunteers participated in the parade by walking, riding the float or riding Divvy bikes. BCBSBIL also set up ten branded tents that served as cooling centers for seniors in the community. From the tent, they could sit in shaded area where bottles of cold water and fans were provided.