CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago’s Bud Billiken Parade stepped off this morning, with recording artist Chaka Khan serving as grand marshal.

READ MORE: Man Steals, Crashes Jeep With Two Young Girls Inside In West Rogers Park

“I’m so honored. I remember coming to this parade when I was a kid. My father used to hold me on his shoulders. It’s like a big homecoming,” the Grammy Award winner told reporters at the South Side annual event. “The city’s been really good to me, and it feels great.”

Bud Billiken, which draws thousands of spectators on the South Side, is the oldest and largest African-American parade.

The Chicago Defender started the parade 85 years ago, Gov. Pat Quinn noted, as a way to get youngsters geared up for school.

READ MORE: University Of Chicago Police Officer Who Shot Man In Hyde Park Shootout Also Shot Student In 2018

“That’s a very important mission for all of us who are parents,” Quinn said.

Quinn’s Republican opponent in the race for governor, businessman Bruce Rauner, also made an appearance at the parade.

“I love shaking everybody’s hand,” he told CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker. “We walk up one side of the whole parade, and walk down the other.”

Incidentally, Quinn said, Saturday is Chaka Khan Day in Illinois.

MORE NEWS: Advocacy Group Works To Get The Homeless Into Shelters With Chicago Temperatures Plummeting