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375,000+ at 2003 Pride Parade
Story and Photo Coverage Part 1
by TRACY BAIM
2003-07-02

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Police estimate between 375,000 and 400,000 people turned out Sunday to watch and march in what could be Chicago's largest Pride Parade. Police barriers were lined up for most of the route this year, keeping crowds back at some of the most popular corners. Under clear skies, the 34th annual parade kicked off from Belmont and Halsted with 236 contingents, including lots of politicians, from the governor to candidates for U.S. Senate.

The previous day, the annual Dyke March was held in Andersonville, with several hundred people marching for lesbian pride and visibility. The decidedly less corporate event features no floats and no sponsorships. Carol Braun's supporters attended the march, making her the first presidential candidate to have visibility at the Dyke March. There was also a deaf contingent, plus banners from Amigas Latinas, Queer to the Left (which had the same Queers in Wonderland display of 'unwanted' playing cards with pics of famous right-wing politicians in the Pride Parade), Chicago Kings, and more.

At the Pride Parade Sunday, about a dozen anti-gay demonstrators from the Fred Phelps clan turned out again this year. As contingents passed them by, music drowned out the hate, but when there was no music, marchers shouted back at the hateful words. Awards were also handed out. Best All Around Float: Howard Brown Health Center. Best Organization Float: Equality Illinois. Best Business Float: Steamworks. Special Parade Award: R.O.T.C. (Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps.). Special Parade Award: GLMA (G&L Medical Association) & LGBPM (LGBT Physicians in Training).

The weekend also included the Proud to Run, the Rocks celebration at Montrose, and the first Pride Fest, on Halsted at Waveland. Local musician Scott Free held a peaceful protest of the event, saying he is angry that the event used mostly straight performers.

Former baseball player Billy Bean was the grand marshall of the Pride Parade, and he also ran in the Frontrunners/Frontwalkers Chicago Proud to Run race Saturday.

Dozens of top-name politicians attended the Parade, including many of the candidates for U.S. Senate from Illinois: state Sen. Barak Obama, Blair Hull, Gery Chico, state Comptroller Dan Hynes, and Joyce Washington. Maria Pappas was out town. Top pols signed up for the Parade: Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, Judge Tom Chiola, Ald. Rey Colon, state Sen. John Cullerton, Ald. Vi Daley, Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine, U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, Ald. Manuel Flores, state Rep. John Fritchey, state Rep. Julie Hamos, Cook County Assessor James Houlihan, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Village of Oak Park Trustee Ray Johnson, Judge Nancy Katz, City Clerk James Laski, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado, state Rep. Larry McKeon, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore, Ald. Joe Moore, Judge Sebastian Patti, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley, Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, 46th Ward Committeeman Sandra Reed, Chicago Treasurer Judy Rice, Sen. Carol Ronen, Rep. Jeff Schoenberg, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Ald. Eugene Schulter, Ald. Helen Shiller, State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, Ald. Tom Tunney, secretary of State Jesse White, and Judge Lori Wolfson. Supporters of Howard Dean for President also had a contingent in the parade.


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