BOYSTOWN — This year's Pride Parade was one of celebration and remembrance.
The event commemorated 45 years since the Stonewall riots in New York City that launched the gay rights movement. And revelers that filled the streets of Uptown, Boystown and Lincoln Park participated in a colorful display celebrating marriage equality in Illinois.
City officials estimated more than 1 million people turned out for the parade, more than last year's attendance, which also eclipsed 1 million.
"It was uplifting this year. Last year, people were disappointed because the same-sex marriage bill hadn't been signed," said Rich Pfeiffer, parade coordinator for Pride Chicago.
The first parade since Illinois legalized same-sex marriage, an added sense of importance surrounded the celebration. Weddings were even conducted on several floats, drawing applause, Pfeiffer said.
Kathleen Weiss, 45, of Plainfield has attended Pride for a dozen years. She and her partner, Bonita Scudella, plan on getting married later this year.
The passage of same-sex marriage, she said, is monumental.
"It's volumes. It's ... everything that everyone's been fighting for, to be on an equal level," she said. "It means that everyone here has finally accomplished the biggest thing they can ever think of.
"You're not just a second-class citizen," Weiss said.
Indiana residents Katrina Bicek, 28, and Jennifer Borg, 27, have been engaged for four years. When Borg called Bicek last week to tell her Indiana would allow same-sex marriage after a judge ruled a ban was unconstitutional, Bicek couldn't believe it.
"Something that's just a little piece of paper to everyone else means everything to us," she said.
Though a judge halted same-sex marriages just days after the ruling, the couple plans to get married by the end of the year.
"Next time we come [to Pride], we'll be wearing wedding bands," Borg said.
Those attending the parade wore colorful wigs, rainbow leggings and beads, and sometimes little at all.
Hyde Park residents Shannon Tweed and Natalie Holden wore homemade rainbow tutus to get in the spirit. They attended the parade to show support for their LGBT friends.
"Everybody's so happy," Holden said.
Police were out in force, cracking down on public drinking and overcrowded balconies and rooftops. The CTA, which had trains packed with people heading to the parade, bypassed service at the Belmont stop due to the crowds and "safety reasons due to police activity."
Metra trains were so full they ran express and added service to accommodate the crowds.
But those in the crowd said they hadn't seen much of a crackdown on public drinking.
Manny Cadellero, 21, of South Elgin, said there were too many people for police to realistically enforce the rule.
"What can they do?" he asked.
Photos circulated on Twitter of revelers sitting atop a Chicago police car with a smashed windshield.
Police said it was mostly a peaceful affair: "Despite the large crowd, there were only a handful of issues including eight arrests, one of which was for criminal damage to a police vehicle."
CONTRIBUTING: Erica Demarest
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