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PRIDE WEEKEND 2019 Chicagoans display their Pride before rain erupts
by Matt Simonette
2019-06-30

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The 2019 Chicago Pride Parade was initially halted and spectators told to seek shelter at about 2:15 p.m. on June 30 when a severe storm erupted, drenching parade goers and participants.

City officials halted the procession because of the potential for lightning and high winds, according to Parade Coordinator Richard Pfieffer. Chicago Police announced via Twitter that the parade was cancelled outright at about 3 p.m. City officials ordered the cancellation, Pfeiffer said.

Parade organizers, in response to the storm predictions, had kicked off the parade about 10 minutes early at 11:50 a.m., and many parade entries had left the stepping-off point at Broadway and Montrose Avenue in Uptown by the time the storm arrived.

According to Pfeiffer, about 39 entries—nine floats and 30 decorated vehicles or marching entries—had not passed the stepping-off point. There were about 160 entries in the parade. He added that the number of entries who'd been able to traverse the complete parade route had yet to be determined.

While weather reports did predict the rain, spectators still showed up to celebrate; the occasion was especially auspicious, marking both the 50th anniversary of the New York City Stonewall uprising that played a key role in inspiring the entire LGBT-rights movement as well as the first parade with an LGBT person—in this case, Mayor Lori Lightfoot—sitting in the City of Chicago's top executive office.

Lightfoot, who was the grand marshal, followed the scouts leading the parade; Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker was not far behind her.

At a press conference that morning, Lightfoot said, "It shouldn't matter who you love to be part of this great city, so as long as I'm mayor, I'm going to do everything that I can to make the city welcoming."

Additional grand marshals included activist and Joel Hall Dance Company Founder Joel Hall; activist and Baton Show Lounge owner Jim Flint; activist and His 'n' Hers owner Marge Summit; Molly Pinta, a young person who organized a Pride parade in her hometown of Buffalo Grove this year; and Indivisible Aurora, who similarly launched a Pride parade in that community in 2018.

Lightfoot and Pritzker were, of course, not the only politicians on hand. Among those elected officials and candidates who marched or sent contingents were U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley, Sean Casten, Jan Schakowsky, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Robin Kelly; U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth; state Rep. Sarah Fiegenholtz, who took selfies with the crowd; Marie Newman, who's just launched another campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski; Cook County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown; attorney Jacob Meister, who just announced that he's making another bid to unseat Brown; Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs; Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza; Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul; Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx; and Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison.

Members of the Chicago City Council's LGBTQ Caucus included Alds. Tom Tunney, Raymond Lopez and James Cappleman. Alds. Matt Martin and Andre Vasquez also took part.

Sizable groups marched in support of presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris. One of Harris' supporters brandished a large placard illustrated with a depiction of the California senator as Wonder Woman.

Balloons by Tommy help up its Pride tradition with numerous colorful ballon sculptures and costumes. Their theme this year was mainly food. Participants were adorned as mugs of beer, cupcakes, a wedding cake and ice cream sundaes.

A Liza Minnelli impersonator doing Liza's Sally Bowles schtick rode Broadway in Chicago's float, while members of Blue Man Group weaved between the floats. Second City Outlaws also entertained the crowds. Nations who were represented by either their regional consulates or tourism boards included Great Britain, Israel, Ireland, Australia and Canada; Hamburg, Germany, was also represented.

Community and national organizations who took part included Howard Brown Health, Thresholds, Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal, ACLU of Illinois, Center on Halsted Project Vida, Gerber Hart Library, HRC, AARP, Chicago Gender Society, Chicago Black Gay Mens Caucus, TPAN, Obama Foundation, and the Legacy Project.

Educational institutions included Truman College; City Colleges of Chicago; University of Chicago; Purdue University Northwest; Illinois State University; Elmhurst College; Nettelhorst School, Near North Montessori; Francis Parker School; Bernard Zell Anshe Emet, King College Prep and Lycee Francais de Chicago.

City agencies included Chicago Police Department; Chicago Housing Authority; Chicago Park District; and Elgin Police Department. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also had a contingent.

Professional organizations and unions included Chicago Teachers Union, SEIU, Heels and Hard Hats Contractors and American Institute of Architects. The airline industry was also well-represented, with participants from United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Boeing.

Additional corporate and media participants were Walgreens, Jewel Osco, Fifth Third Bank, U.S. Bank, PNC Bank, T-Mobile, AT&T, Uber, Grab Magazine, WGN (whose float featured Bozo the Clown dancing to Madonna's Express Yourself), WXRT, NBC 5, Telemundo and Univision. McDonald's cheekily proclaimed "Equality with a side of fries."

Sports organizations and teams included Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Fire, Chicago Dragons, Chicago Women's Rugby Association, Chicago Gay Hockey Association and Chicago Smelts.

Dozens of area churches and synagogues sent contingents for the parade. Congregation Or Chadash, the longtime LGBT synagogue that has since been folded into Temple Sholom in Lake View, brought members and supporters through in a trolley.

The Lakeside Pride Marching Band punctuated its numbers with some twirling at various points in its numbers. Organized Chaos members also revved up the crowds—by revving up their bikes.


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