Chicago gears up for Pride Parade amid increased security measures, community excitement

Marching under the theme "Pride is Power," massive crowds will converge on Lake View and Lincoln Park today for Chicago’s iconic Pride Parade.

As this year's participants prepare for the festivities, the Chicago Police Department is doing the same. CPD has canceled officers' days off to make sure there are enough eyes along the entire parade route while also maintaining their presence in high-crime areas across the city.

More than one million participants and parade-goers will gather for the grand finale of Pride Month in the Windy City.

It's among the oldest Pride parades in the world – the first held in 1970 on the first anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

"This is always an incredibly special time of year for us," said Ald. Bennett Lawson (44th Ward). "This year is 53 years of our parade."

This summer’s parade will be several blocks shorter than years past – stepping off at Broadway and Sheridan in Lake View, as opposed to Montrose and Broadway.

Additionally, it will start at 11 a.m. – one hour earlier than last year.

Finally, the parade will feature fewer participants. Originally capped at 125 floats and performers, the total number of entries was bumped up to 150 – still smaller than nearly 200 entries in 2023. The changes were made, in part, due to logistic and safety concerns.

"It’s important that this tradition and this parade goes off safely," said Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling. "There will be high visibility from our officers, so you will see our officers from the beginning of the route, all the way until the end."

According to CPD, the parade has received threats, as in previous years, and they are investigating each one.

"What we’re concerned about more than anything else, is what occurs late into the night after the parade," said Snelling. "We want to make sure that anyone who is going down there to wreak havoc on the location, to commit acts of violence, vandalism, that we put an end to that before it starts."

Additionally, Snelling is encouraging parade-goers who witness any suspicious activity, to report it immediately to nearby officers.

"Along the route, you will see pole markers. Those pole markers will be a combination of letters and numbers. What that is – it’s going to identify the location of where you are, so if you make a phone call to the police, and you look up and see that marker, we’ll know exactly where you are," said Snelling.

In a news conference on Friday, Snelling said he’s been working closely with Ald. Lawson to ensure a safe Pride Parade. 

"As an openly gay alderman, I take particular joy in seeing thousands of people come together in our neighborhood to celebrate the LGBTQ community," said Lawson.

In the city’s Northalsted (Boystown) neighborhood, excitement can already be felt ahead of the event, which is one of the most well-attended Pride parades in the nation.

"It’s really energetic, super high-energy," said Peggy Ceresia.

Ceresia was in the parade last year and said rain or shine, it's going to be a good time.

"Everyone was still dancing and singing and it’s a very safe, happy celebration of our wonderful community here," said Ceresia.

"Our families are coming to support us and it’s just going to be a good time," said Joe Barry, who will be attending the parade.

"The parade really brings out the best of the community. It’s just nice to see visibility, and especially for the younger folks that come to see they have a whole community behind them, it’s really important," said Sean O’Reilly, who lives in the area.

The parade is scheduled to come to an end by 2 p.m. Sunday at Sheridan and Diversey in Lincoln Park.

Starting at 2 a.m. Sunday, temporary parking restrictions and street closures will begin to take effect near the parade route. 

For more information about parking restrictions and pedestrian crossings, click HERE.

For additional details on the Pride Parade, click HERE. LINK: