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Residents Call for End of Pride Parade, But Tunney Says They're in Minority

By Serena Dai | July 11, 2013 8:07am
 The Chicago Pride Parade took place in Lakeview on June 30.
Chicago Pride Parade
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LAKEVIEW — A neighbor who said the Pride Parade should be kicked out of Lakeview due to crime was applauded at this month's CAPS meeting, but Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said those demanding its end are in the "very minor, minor minority."

Tunney's office received about 40 complaint calls in the first three days after the parade, he said, and most of them were about traffic — not crime.

"People know that this is a busy, dynamic neighborhood," Tunney said. "What you're saying right now — you're one person with an ax to grind."

Another person in the meeting yelled "two!" in response, indicative of a group of residents at the CAPS meeting who say Lakeview can no longer handle Pride. The parade has swelled in size each year, and it expanded the route to Uptown last year to accommodate growing crowds. Last month's event attracted more than a million people to Uptown and Lakeview, according to police. 

That's too much for Lakeview, some at the meeting said, and the parade should be sent downtown.

"I'm in bed by 10:30, and it's squad cars and sirens until about 12 o'clock at night," one man said. "It's like you're in Kabul [Afghanistan], instead of the city of Chicago."

On Pride Sunday, 58 crimes were documented in the 44th Ward by the Chicago Police Department crime data portal. Thefts made up most of the crimes at 41 percent, and simple battery — or fights that do not result in major bodily harm — made up the next largest portion with 24 percent.

Some said that the people who crowded the streets later at night were not the same people who showed up to celebrate the parade. That late crowd has been an ongoing problem — the same one "we've been talking about for six years," said Stu Zirin, an owner of D.S. Tequila and Minibar.

With limited police resources and $250,000 worth of private security already coming from the Northalsted Business Alliance each year, community members must come together to try to crack down, he said, advocating for "positive loitering," a tactic where groups of neighbors walking around to encourage positive behavior.

"The only way it's going to be fixed if the people in this room fix it," Zirin said. "The alderman has done everything he can. We have to help ourselves."

Tunney said that every big event has its "tipping point" when the city can no longer handle it, citing the downsizing of Fourth of July fireworks over the years. Public safety is the No. 1 consideration in those situations, he said.

But people should keep in mind that hosting Pride in a neighborhood is "unique" and "really really cool," and moving it downtown will give it a different flavor — just like how Wrigley Field would have a different flavor if it moved to the suburbs, he said.

He's willing to listen to residents' opinions, but for now, people opposing the parade "need to step it up if you’re going to put an influence on me," he said.

"I think it’s one of the unique neighborhood experiences that people will relish for the rest of their lives, whether they urinate your lawns [or not]," he said. "We gotta figure out — are we big enough to handle it?"