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University of Iowa News Release


July 21, 2008

UI students, faculty, staff invited to march in Aug. 9 parade in Chicago

UI students, alumni, and faculty and staff are invited to show their Hawkeye pride and commitment to diversity by marching in Chicago's 79th Annual Bud Billiken Parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 9. The deadline to sign up is Aug. 1.

In the university's inaugural entry to the popular event, Herky and other Hawkeyes will support the Windy City, which is home to a third of the UI student body and more than half of the university's minority student applicants.

"As a university, we are very proud of a long-standing history of inclusion and diversity as a core value," said Erin Bloomquist, director of diversity and educational partnerships at the UI Chicago Center. "Traditionally, it has been the historically black colleges and universities participating in the parade. We thought it would be a positive forum for Iowa to celebrate our diverse community in the Chicago area."

The parade, held the second Saturday in August since 1929, draws more than 74,000 participants, 1.2 million spectators, and 25 million viewers to its national telecast on WGN/WB. It is the second-largest parade in the United States and features celebrities, politicians, businessmen, civic organizations and youth. National and international celebrities such as President Harry S. Truman, Muhammad Ali, Duke Ellington, Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Michael Jordan, and Barack Obama have participated in the event. The parade is named after Bud Billiken, a fictitious person created by author Willard Motley, who wrote a column for the Chicago Defender.

A Commitment to Diversity Social will be held following the parade from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Little Black Pearl Art & Design Center. For more information, visit

There is no admission charge for the parade or the gathering, but attendees must pre-register by Aug. 1 at For more information, visit or Or, contact Bloomquist at

Because the parade is also a back-to-school celebration, staff at the UI Chicago Center are collecting school supplies such as pens, pencils, notepads, folders, t-shirts, key chains and toothbrushes to pass out to children along the parade route. These materials may be shipped to UI Chicago Center at 150 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2700 Chicago, Ill., 60601. Or, e-mail Bloomquist by Friday, July 25 to arrange a pickup in Iowa City.

The UI Chicago Center opened in the heart of the Loop in December 2006 to provide Chicagoland residents with first-hand information about the many educational and career opportunities available at the UI and to connect UI alumni with Iowa employers.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Bloomquist, UI Chicago Center, 312-781-5851,; Writer, Aly Dolan