This Saturday, Chicago will hold its annual Bud Billiken Parade, “the oldest and largest African American parade in the country,” without its previously announced Grand Marshall President Barack Obama.
Organizers were surprised to learn in late June that he would be backing out; what is even more surprising is that Valerie Jarrett is sending the replacement, her staffer Michael Strautmanis.
It is quite a let-down for organizers of the parade, the theme of which is “Education: Built to Last; a Tribute to President Barack Obama,” a topic that appears to have been built around the expectation that the President would be taking part.
And communications have been confusing; the chairman of the parade reports that all communications had gone through the White House, but the cancellation was done through the campaign office.
What is confounding is that the President will actually be in Chicago this weekend for a series of swanky fundraisers, where $40,000 per person can get you within mingling distance of the President at his Kenwood home, and $5,000 gets you into Obama best friend Marty Nesbitt’s home. $1,000 gets you into the home of Barbara Bowman, the mother of Valerie Jarrett.
Obama was the Grand Marshall of the parade in 2007 and would have been the first sitting president to take part in the parade.
Perhaps he’ll surprise the disappointed organizers with an impromptu appearance. But at least Valerie Jarrett will be represented.