FOX 32 NEWS - One of the most popular performers in the annual Bud Billiken Parade says it won't be marching this year after parade organizers ordered the South Shore Drill Team to cut the number of participants.
Members of the acclaimed South Shore Drill Team practice and collect donations for future performances, which apparently won't include this weekend's annual Bud Billiken Parade.
"I think it's a shame because the South Shore Drill Team has been a part of the Bud Billiken Parade for 35 years,” one kid said.
"We were the reason the Bud has grown over the years,” Adrienne Kennedy said.
Drill team board member Adrienne Kennedy says the organization decided to boycott the parade after Bud Billiken organizers told them they could only bring 100 participants. That’s a problem because the drill team has more than 200 members.
"They wanted us to pick and choose. Well how do we pick and choose? Do we take this one but not this one? So this is our way of saying, look, if you ask for the South Shore Drill Team it will be all of the South Shore Drill Team,” Kennedy said.
But parade organizers say they actually put the 100-person cap in place two years ago because the parade had become so big it was taking up to six hours, disrupting the community and putting a strain on city services.
They say other large bands and marching teams have trimmed their numbers, but the South Shore Drill Team refused.
"They do an amazing job. But we don't want to show preference of one group over the other, and say well you don't have to follow our rules but the other 174 units do. We don't think that's fair,” said Bud Billiken Parade spokesperson Kristal Davis.
Fair or not, it's a bitter disappointment for drill team members who spend several hours a day practicing.
"South Shore always had a huge number during the parade. So I just don't understand why we could just cut it down now... We always come big,” said drill team member Kayla Smith.
"If the kids are doing something positive, not gangbanging or killing each other, why is there a limit on the number of children who can perform at the paraqde? That's not making sense to me,” said drill team mom Latoya White.
The drill team says instead of marching in the Bud Billiken Parade Saturday. They'll hold their own event near their South Shore headquarters.
"We want to have our own parade. So we're asking everybody don't go to the Bud. Come and watch our own parade,” Kennedy said.
"If they want to appear they're still in the lineup. They'll just have to follow the rules of 100 people,” Davis added. "There will be a head count. Absolutely."
The South Shore drill team is not just famous in Chicago. It has performed all over the country, including one of President Obama’s inaugurals.