BOYSTOWN — There were floats, just like last year. There were balloons, rainbows galore and high fives all around.
But this year, there was marriage equality. Oh, and the Stanley Cup.
The 46th annual Chicago Pride Parade took place in Boystown two days after the United States Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in all 50 states. Advocates, politicians and members of the LGBTQ community marched through hundreds of thousands of cheering attendees.
Despite attempts to limit the length of the noon parade, the procession stretched for four hours, starting at Montrose Avenue and North Broadway and ending at Diversey Parkway and Cannon Drive.
Responding to concerns that the parade — with crowds exceeding 1 million — has outgrown Boystown, Alds. Tom Tunney (44th) and James Cappleman (46th) met several times with parade organizers, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office and other city officials to plan improvements to the parade.
"We are planning for this better than we ever have before, keeping in mind we were fully expecting the announcement from the Supreme Court. There will be more police officers in the streets, on horses and on bicycles," Cappleman said Sunday just before the parade began.
Boystown streets were filled with people celebrating the Chicago Pride Parade:
Parade organizer Richard Pfeiffer hired 90 off-duty officers for additional crowd control during the parade, and officials warned that those caught with open containers of alcohol would be subject to a "zero-tolerance policy" and a $1,000 fine.
Officers were put to the test with two separate interruptions to the parade's progression. #BlackOutPride protesters who were marching in the parade staged a "die-in" at Addison and Halsted streets around 1:45 p.m., halting the parade for about 15 minutes while officers spoke with protest organizers.
They sought to draw attention to the challenges of LGBTQ people of color, especially with regard to state violence. At least six people were handcuffed when they did not disperse and were taken to the Town Hall Police District, 850 W. Addison St., allowing the parade to resume just before 2 p.m.
About forty minutes later, a man drove his car through the middle of the parade, entering from Addison and coming to a stop at Halsted and Waveland. One officer and a medical worker were slightly injured, according to the Crime in Wrigleyville + Boystown blog.
While officials limited the number of political entrants in the parade, about a dozen marched with large support groups. Emanuel continued his tradition of leading the parade, and Tunney and Cappleman joined fellow LGBT Caucus members. Also present were U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, Sen. Mark Kirk, Illinois Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) and former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.
Advocacy groups, Boystown businesses, local schools and LGBTQ organizations filled out the festival with dancing cowboys, giant balloons and costumes to match extravagant floats.
With so many entrants, the parade is "almost too political, [with] too many people involved," said Boystown resident Bruce Jasinski. After attending the parade over the almost 30 years since he moved to Boystown, Jasinski, 56, said he's seen the parade's attendance skyrocket.
Still, he opposes the idea of moving the parade south to Grant Park or downtown.
"[Boystown] is where most of the people are, the community. We're enjoying hanging out, and it's a beautiful day," Jasinski said.
Following the parade, celebrators continued on to Lakeview bars and dance clubs, sending Chicago police across the neighborhood to deal with reports of battery, theft and fights largely in the entertainment districts. Rainshowers continued into the night, as well.
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