Then-state Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, march in the Bud Billiken Parade on Chicago's South Side in 2004. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune / June 28, 2012)

Despite initial reports indicating President Barack Obama would serve as the grand marshal of the Bud Billiken Parade, campaign officials said Wednesday he'll be a no-show because of scheduling conflicts.

However, "the president will continue to be a strong supporter of the parade, and of its broader mission: placing a priority on education, supporting our children, and making sure they have the skills they need to achieve their goals," read a statement from Obama for America, the president's re-election campaign, which promised to have a strong presence at the back-to-school festivities.

In response, parade organizers said they were baffled. They were under the impression the campaign had little to do with Obama's scheduling for that event, said Eugene Scott, chairman of the parade and president of Chicago Defender Charities, which oversees the event. Scott said he worked with the White House to get the president aboard.

"I'm at a loss for the campaign people to even enter the fray," he said.

The Aug. 11 parade would have paid homage to Obama's commitment to public education. It was unclear Wednesday whether the theme would change.

Organizers had said the 83-year-old event could draw as many as 2 million visitors — nearly double the normal amount — if the president participated. They were working with the Chicago Police Department and theU.S. Secret Service to impose stricter restrictions along the nearly two-mile parade route.

Scott said he was disappointed by the changes but had not yet talked with other parade organizers to confirm the news. He said he was told earlier that the president's schedule might be tweaked as it got closer to campaign season but believed Obama would make the event.

"I understood these ground rules could change," he said.

jmdelgado@tribune.com