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Pride Parade 'Not Really Welcome Anymore,' Needs to Be Moved, Neighbors Say

By Ariel Cheung | July 15, 2015 8:11am
 Thousands of parade attendees lined Halsted Street during the 46th annual Chicago Pride Parade in Boystown on Sunday, June 28, 2015.
Thousands of parade attendees lined Halsted Street during the 46th annual Chicago Pride Parade in Boystown on Sunday, June 28, 2015.
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DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung

CENTRAL LAKEVIEW — Neighbors in the area where Pride Parade crowds converged in hours after the event said they've had enough.

Unsatisfied with police and city efforts to calm post-parade crowds, Central Lake View Neighbors will write a letter to Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) recommending the parade be moved out of Boystown.

The parade, which has brought more than 1 million people to the Lakeview and Uptown areas in recent years, saw some success in June with additional security and alcohol checkpoints. But as police and neighbors have said, the mayhem after the parade is what must be changed.

"We're shut-ins for the weekend. We can't go to the Kenmore playlot because people are there drinking all day. We have little kids that see stuff they shouldn't see, and my alley still smells like urine," neighbor Brian Kenney said at a Tuesday night meeting of the Central Lake View Neighbors.

Kenney said the Pride disruptions far outweighed ruckus during Chicago Cubs home games or the June 15 Blackhawks celebrations. While neighbors did choose to live in an entertainment district, no other event disturbs their residential streets like the parade and its aftermath, Central Lake View Neighbors Vice President Jeanne Saliture said.

Ariel Cheung says moving the parade is one of only a handful of options:

Complaining of groping by parade passersby, waiting on hold with 911 for two minutes and a trashed neighborhood, those who spoke during Tuesday's neighborhood group meeting said the parade was "not really welcome anymore," as Saliture put it.

The sentiment echoed results from a survey offered to residents in the Lakeview area south of Belmont Avenue and between Racine and Halsted streets, neighborhood group President Diann Marsalek said.

"We only had two people respond positively and want it to stay. The vast, vast majority of people want it moved," citing the parade's size, security issues, traffic congestion and crowd behavior as major problems, Marsalek said. Since the survey is still open to neighbors, Marsalek declined to share more information about the responses received so far.

Moving the parade downtown, however, would create its own set of complications, officials have said. Highest among them is the concern that moving the parade would mean a loss of out-of-district police resources to oversee a crowd that would likely return to Boystown after the parade, regardless of where it takes place.

During a July 1 meeting, officials suggested gating off North Halsted and taking donations for entry to the permitted event, creating a checkpoint for the throngs that flood the streets of Lakeview after the parade. The idea was floated for 2015, but at too late a point to act upon, police said.

This year saw 52 parade-related arrests, including several violent incidents that broke out after the parade. Officials, business owners and residents largely agree that the parade itself was calmer than in years past, but post-parade crowds fueled a different situation.

Tunney has long suggested that moving the parade will eventually be necessary as its attendance continues to outpace the neighborhood.

On Tuesday, spokeswoman Erin Duffy said a potential move is discussed each year as city officials review parade operations. Such a review is set for this week, with a follow-up committee meeting planned to include members of affected chambers of commerce, neighborhood organizations and other community shareholders.

During the July 1 meeting at the Town Hall District, Sgt. Jason Clark — who, along with District Cmdr. Robert Cesario, worked into the night with a heavy police force after the June 28 parade — said no amount of police officers would be enough.

"You can give me a million police officers, you can give me one-for-one, and I'd still want more," Clark said.

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