Chance the Rapper didn’t just steal the show, he gave one away.
Serving as the grand marshal of the 88th Annual Bud Billiken Parade Saturday on the South Side, Chance announced he would put on a free concert hours after the parade.
The surprise show capped a day of giveaways, highlighted by 30,000 backpacks handed out to kids at the parade that has been ringing in the new school year for generations.
Corey Deering, 37, said Chance helped promote a family atmosphere at the parade that hasn’t always been there in the past, noting he saw more young kids than usual and no violence.
“You heard no gunshots,” Deering said as he looked down, shook his head and smiled.
Deering has worked for the Chicago Park District for 14 years, coaching the Ogden Park youth football team based in Englewood.
His son, 14-year-old Colby Cline, played his final season with the team last year. In the fall, he’ll play for Perspectives Charter School in the South Loop, where he’ll be a first-year high school student.
Cline hopes to play basketball or football in college, and if that doesn’t pan out, he wants to be a math teacher.
Deering, who lives in the Gresham neighborhood, said Chance’s decision to give back to the community has helped kids like his son. But that doesn’t mean young people were the only ones happy to see the rapper.
“They had their mouths open like, ‘Man, that’s . . .’ and I said, ‘I know, me, too,” Deering said of his excitement to see Chance.
While families were excited to see Chance — or Chancellor Bennett, as his parents named him — he didn’t start his fight for the city’s kids and public schools this weekend. He’s played a high-profile role in the city’s school-funding battle for months.
Besides donating $1 million to Chicago Public Schools on March 6, Chance has blasted both Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrat Mayor Rahm Emanuel for not doing more to help the financially challenged CPS, especially in the past week.
State lawmakers are expected to continue debating school funding on Sunday when the Illinois Senate reconvenes in Springfield to vote again on a new school funding formula.
While Darnecia Thompson, 38, said her 4-year-old daughter won’t be affected by school spending decisions because she’s attending private school, Thompson said she hopes a solution is found soon, and she appreciates what Chance has done to help.
“It’s really an awesome feeling because a lot of people who make it out don’t think enough to give back,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot more that could be done.”
While Thompson said she isn’t a rap fan, she’s still a fan of Chance.
“He’s a product of these communities, and he knows how things can go wrong,” she said.
Meanwhile, Deering, still gushing over Chance, said he would have a simple message for the rapper if he met him.
“Thank you,” he said. “I love you.”