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Gay Pride Festival Splits Up, Spans Two Weekends

By Serena Dai | February 6, 2013 12:58pm | Updated on February 6, 2013 3:45pm

BOYSTOWN — Big changes are in store for the the annual gay pride bash in Chicago.

Instead of a long weekend in June with a two-day street festival followed by the huge Pride Parade, the street fest will be held the weekend before the parade, according to event organizers.

Pride Fest, the two-day street festival with music and vendors, is now being planned for Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23. The Pride Parade will be held June 30, the Northalsted Business Alliance told East Lake View Neighbors Tuesday. 

Previously, the street festival has been held on Friday and Saturday with the parade on Sunday, packing the area with people for the weekend. 

The city estimated that 850,000 people attended the parade alone last year, up 100,000 from the year before.

The fest is run by Northalsted Business Alliance and is co-chaired by Sean Kotwa from Hydrate and Ramesh Ariyanayakam from Kit Kat Lounge. The parade is a separate event run by organizer Richard Pfeiffer.

Attendance for the event has significantly increased in the last several years, the alliance said, and fest organizers hope losing Friday will alleviate congestion, offer more time for people to get into town and ease pressure on police. 

"The resources of the Police Department are so taxed on the weekend of the parade, in terms of having Pride Fest and then the parade," said Jay Lyon, executive director of the alliance. "That would be a nice benefit, to spread the [crowds] out."