The 2019 parade, under the theme “Stonewall 50: Millions of Moments of Pride”, will honor the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, an event that served as a catalyst for the gay liberation movement.
“This year’s parade is special because it’s the 50th anniversary,” parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer told GoPride.com. “We have some new surprise entries, along with multiple Grand Marshals, which is new this year.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the city’s first openly gay mayor, is one of seven grand marshals. She’ll ride a float near the front of the parade, a first for a Chicago mayor.
The other grand marshals: Molly Pinta, the 13-year-old who organized the inaugural Buffalo Grove Pride Parade; Joel Hall, founder of the Joel Hall Dance Company; Jim Flint, owner of the Baton Show Lounge; Marge Summit, owner of the His ‘n Hers bar; and Chuck Adams and Gwyn Ciesla of Invisible Aurora, the group behind the Aurora Pride Parade.
Planning to attend? Here’s everything you need to know.
ROUTE AND TIME: The parade starts at 12 Noon at the corner of Broadway and Montrose. The parade featuring 160 colorful entries will then travel the 21-block parade route south on Broadway; then south on Halsted; then east on Belmont; then south on Broadway; then east on Diversey to Cannon Drive.
There will be nine cross-over streets along the parade route: Montrose at Broadway; Irving Park Rd. at Broadway; Grace at Broadway; Addison at Halsted; Cornelia at Halsted; Roscoe at Halsted; Aldine at Halsted; Barry Ave. at Broadway; and Wellington Ave. at Broadway.
LESS ALCOHOL, MORE SECURITY: Security will be tight again this year. Open container rules will continue to be strictly enforced, with 170 private security workers patrolling the parade and police on every corner. Penalties include, but are not limited to, $1000+ tickets being issued, and you could have to throw out your booze.
STREET CLOSURES: Some street closures will begin as early as 8 a.m. and parade route closures begin as early as 9:30 a.m., or as the crowd intensifies. The closures include Montrose, Irving Park and Wellington at Broadway and Addison, Grace and Roscoe at Halsted. Streets are expected to fully reopen by 8 p.m.
TRANSPORTATION: Public transportation is highly recommended. The CTA will be providing extra service and longer trains on the L, and several buses will be re-routed on parade day. Bicycles will not be permitted on CTA trains for most of the day, and strollers and carts must be folded before boarding all CTA buses and trains.
The nearest L stops are: Wilson, Sheridan, Addison or Belmont on the Red Line and Southport, Belmont, Wellington, or Diversey on the Brown Line. Bus lines are 8, 22, 36, 80, or 152.
The CTA encourages riders to avoid the Belmont station, which will likely be crowded.
Metra will provide extra trains on the BNSF, UP North, UP Northwest and UP West Lines. Other lines that operate on Sundays will offer extra seating capacity.
PARKING: There won’t be much street parking available near the assembly or parade routes, so if you’re driving be prepared to park outside of the immediate area. Watch for temporary no parking signs.
WEATHER: Sunday’s forecast calls for mostly sunny weather with a high temperature around 89 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Cooling busses will be available at Halsted, south of Belmont; Addison, west of Halsted; Belmont, east of Broadway; Wilton, north of Belmont; Buena, west of Broadway.
BEST VIEWING: The Belmont and Addison stations (and the surrounding area) tend to become the most crowded, so you are encouraged to consider watching the parade from the other parts of the route, including areas toward the start of the route—such as Broadway, south of Montrose—which are served by both the nearby Wilson and Sheridan stations on the Red Line.
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE: If you need first aid, the Chicago Fire Department has first aid stations at 901 W. Addison St., 765 W. Roscoe St., 3165 N. Halsted St., 561 W. Surf St. and 802 W. Roscoe St. There will also be a public safety command center on Belmont Avenue between Clark and Halsted.
NEEDS AND SPECIAL NEEDS: Portable restrooms will be stationed along both the parade line-up street and the parade route. For seniors or those who need wheelchair accessible sites, head near 600 W. Diversey. It’s towards the end of the parade route and typically is less crowded than other streets. Many arrive early to set up chairs and claim their spots. This area also has bathrooms for those with special needs.
HISTORY: Pride Parades commemorate the Stonewall rebellion that took place on June 28,1969, when patrons of a New York City gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, fought back during a raid by police. At that time, gay bars were frequently raided across the country. That night, patrons fought back and street demonstrations continued for several days. During that week, gay liberation groups were formed, thus giving birth to the modern day LGBTQ+ rights movement.
Pride Parades are staged in over 200+ cities worldwide in more than 125+ cities in the United States with at least 12 taking place on the last weekend in June every year. In recent years, many are staged in small towns across the country and recently in various suburbs of Chicago, including Buffalo Grove and Aurora, Illinois.
The annaul Chicago Pride Parade is coordinated by PRIDEChicago under the direction of Pfeiffer.