CHICAGO - As the 52nd annual Chicago Pride Parade steps off Sunday, the Chicago Police Department is stepping up patrols.
One of the nation's biggest Pride parades, it is expected to draw visitors from around the globe.
Organizers estimate that more than 1 million people will take part in the festivities.
"It’s important to us that our visitors and fellow Chicagoans and the LGBTQ+ community know we are supporting them we and advocating for them," said Interim Chicago Police Superintendent Fred Waller.
It includes 150 floats, marching bands, politicians and social clubs celebrating the LGBTQ+ community.
Security has been increased due to recent anti-LGBTQ activities nationwide, and it will be addressed during the event. Neighbors hope spectators will focus on themes of joy and inclusion.
As finishing touches are made on Pride parade floats and the route is reviewed, in Grant Park the party has already started.
"Just watching everybody together celebrating, having a good time, that’s what it’s all about for me," said Dusty Carpenter, lead organizer, Pride in the Park.
For both Pride in the Park, which kicked off Friday afternoon, and the Chicago Pride Parade later this weekend, safety is a top priority.
"We’re lucky, we have Evolv, which is a body scanner that does so much more than just your normal metal detector, so we’re really making sure everyone can feel safe and have a good time and be who they are here," said Carpenter.
A time to uplift and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
"We’ve been working very closely with the police department, OEMC, and other city departments to make sure we have a well-run parade," said Alderman Bennett Lawson, 44th Ward. "We make tweaks every year based on changes from the previous."
In Lakeview, Ald. Lawson and Interim Supt. Waller met with local business owners Friday to share their safety plan.
"We’re hoping that everybody that comes down here is looking out for each other," said Maureen Martino, executive director, Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce.
This Sunday, CPD is cancelling the day off for many, which will bring on about 200 additional officers.
Visible police patrols and undercover officers will be deployed throughout the parade route. Plus, the department will have more command posts than usual.
"We’re constantly monitoring social media for any type of threats," said Waller. "Our counter-terrorism unit, they do a great job of doing that, along with the federal assets we have, so we are monitoring that closely."
Pride in the Park will also be held from 3-10 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are still available online.