Though Houston Art Car Parade festivities were reimagined in other formats during the pandemic, it’s been two years since hundreds of art cars rolled through downtown streets in what is traditionally one of the city’s largest free public events.
But the parade – in its 35th annual edition – is back on Saturday, April 9 at 2pm. And leading the procession will be Grammy-nominated, hometown hip-hop artist Bun B as Grand Marshal.
“We haven’t had a lot of opportunities in Houston to really have a great event where everyone and their family could come out and enjoy it,” said Bun B at the event’s Kickoff Party at The Ion on March 24.
“But the Art Car Parade is going to provide us that, and I’m so proud and honored to be the 2022 Grand Marshal,” he said.
The Houston Art Car Parade is the latest citywide event to bounce back from COVID-19, along with the recently held Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as well as the Houston Marathon in January.
For its pandemic comeback, this year’s parade will feature around 250 art cars.
Spectators will see “slab cars born out of Houston’s unique contribution to American car culture” and “more than 100 new and never-before-seen Art Cars from around the country like Riders, bike and skater groups, wheeled contraptions, bejeweled roadsters, and custom-crafted classics, along with the fur-covered, metal-modified, fire-breathing varieties,” said organizers in a statement.
Produced by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, the parade on April 9 is part of a four-day Art Car Parade “Weekend” from April 7 – 10, featuring both free and ticketed festivities. A complete schedule of events can be found here.
As Grand Marshal, Bun B follows a long line of artists, celebrities, entertainers, and leaders who have held the title – including Cheech Marin, Dan Aykroyd, J.J. Watt, The Art Guys, Annise Parker, Kinky Friedman, Lynn Wyatt, and George Clinton.
A native of Port Arthur, Texas, Bernard Freeman, aka “Bun B,” is a pioneer of the Southern rap movement in the late 1980s, as a founding member of the duo UGK (Underground Kingz) alongside fellow emcee Pimp C.
With an affinity for car culture, Bun B is also a car enthusiast and has participated many times in the car rally Gumball 3000. As a philanthropist and activist, he was at the forefront of Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts and has helped organize major rallies to honor the legacy of George Floyd. Bun B is a Distinguished Lecturer at Rice University, where he has taught courses on Hip-Hop and Religion and led discussions about racism.