Chicago Sky’s Candace Parker to lead Bud Billiken Parade as grand marshal

Parker is a two-time WNBA MVP and Chicago native. This year’s parade kicks off at 45th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14.

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The Sky’s Candace Parker has been around the basketball world and back again, changing the game everywhere she goes.

The Sky’s Candace Parker has been named grand marshal of this year’s Bud Billiken Parade.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker, the two-time WNBA Most Valuable Player, has been named grand marshal of the 92nd Annual Bud Billiken Parade and Festival, organizers announced Friday.

This year’s parade is next Saturday, Aug. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Chicago native, who recently made history as the first woman and WNBA player to grace the cover of an NBA 2K video game, will lead the parade as it returns this year. Last year, due to COVID-19, it was canceled for the first time in its history.

“Candace is seen as hometown hero to many of our city’s youth, and to have her lead the parade this year is just the burst of energy and excitement our students need as they prepare for their first full year back in classrooms since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, president and CEO of the Chicago Defender Charities and Bud Billiken Parade Chair.

Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, President/CEO of Chicago Defender Charities, and Bud Billiken® Parade Chair.

Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, president and CEO of Chicago Defender Charities, is chair of the Bud Billiken Parade.

Provided

In her 14th season, Parker is the Sky’s second-leading scorer — despite sitting out eight games with a high ankle sprain early in the season. Without their star, the Sky entered a seven-game skid that was immediately reversed upon her return, with a franchise-record seven-game winning streak.

The team now is 10-10 at the Olympic break — 9-3 with her on the floor.

Joining Parker for the festivities will be other local and national celebrities and dignitaries. Honorary grand marshals include the cast of VH1’s Chicago Black Ink Crew; author/media personality Bevy Smith; and Jeremy Joyce, creator of Black People Eats.

McKinley Nelson, founder of Project Swish Chicago, is honorary health ambassador, and award-winning gospel artist Jonathan McReynolds has been named honorary hometown hero.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., is the honorary parade dignitary, with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also expected to participate when the parade kicks off at 45th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Parker will lead the procession south on King Drive, through Washington Park, ending at Garfield Boulevard/55th Street. That’s where the festival, featuring vendors, food, entertainment — and coronavirus vaccine stations — will be held.

Due to COVID-19, masks are required to attend the enclosed festival, and attendees will have to register in advance — either to verify they have been vaccinated, or to receive the vaccine on-site.

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