While enjoying the 79th Annual Chicago Defender Bud Billiken Parade Saturday, the community will still see many blue shirts keeping the crowd in control, but what they won’t see is the extra police presence.
While enjoying the 79th Annual Chicago Defender Bud Billiken Parade Saturday, the community will still see many blue shirts keeping the crowd in control, but what they won’t see is the extra police presence. But don’t fret, plain-clothes officers will be among the estimated 1.2 million parade watchers to reinforce that control. “Whenever you put over a million people in a relatively confined area, you have to be prepared for those situations,” Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said Thursday at a news conference at police headquarters. The stepped-up personnel is partly due to the gunfire that erupted less than a mile away from this year’s Taste of Chicago festivities. The parade’s organizer will supplement the police’s padded staff with 300 marshalls, most of whom are off-duty or retired Chicago police officers and Cook County Sheriff deputies. “This is the parade’s 79th year, and it has almost been incident-free of violence during that time. We want to be around for 79 more years. It’s just the parade’s effort to support a controlled environment,” said Col. Eugene Scott, the parade’s organizer and head of Chicago Defender Charities Inc. Also contributing to controlling the parade environment is the addition of metal barricades along the parade route, no parking in Washington Park and limited music entertainment. Instead, a children’s pavilion will be added –– complete with pony rides –– and a pavilion for homeless women and their children. “That will also give us better control of the entertainment portion in the park,” said Scott. ______ Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.