City officials warned Monday that they are prepared to find a new home for Chicago's massive LGBT Pride Parade -- that is, unless authorities, organizers, and Boystown can clean up its act this year.
While the 2015 Pride Parade is confirmed to take place in Boystown on June 28th, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward) and Ald. James Cappleman (46th Ward) issued a joint statement with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, saying, "[I]f there is not a serious improvement in the parade’s impact on surrounding residents' quality of life this year, the next step is to assemble an advisory group to make recommendations for moving the parade out of the Lakeview community."
In other words, the city is threatening to move the parade unless everyone behaves.
Cappleman and Tunney, as well as an advisory committee of neighborhood stakeholders met with the mayor's office to plan changes for this year's parade, seemingly in hopes of achieving better crowd control and reducing issues like public drinking and crime associated crowds at the parade, which has attracted over a million revelers in recent years. As a result, officials say parade goers should expect "enhanced" enforcement against drinking in the streets, general improvements to the way the parade operates, and a "stricter public safety plan," according to the statement.
Previously, officials extended the route of the parade into Uptown and even scheduled the parade and the annual Pride Fest on separate weekends to reduce the strain on the neighborhood, which will again be the case this year with Pride Fest slated for June 20th and 21st. Past warnings about increased enforcement against public drinking, including doubling the fine to $1,000, have done little to curb boozing along the parade route. However, only eight arrests were made at the parade last year, and last fall, Tunney's office conducted a survey of neighborhood residents and 55% said they favored the parade staying in Boystown, according to a report by DNAinfo Chicago.
“We ask for your support in keeping the parade safe by celebrating both responsibly and respectfully,” Tunney and Cappleman said in the statement. “If we do not see significant improvement this year, it may be the last year that the parade is in our community. Let’s work together to ensure that the Pride Parade is a positive reflection of our pride in our neighborhood, city and LGBT community.”
The Pride Parade has been held in Boystown since 1971.
Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and has amazing memories from the many Chicago Pride parades he's attended over the years in Boystown. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.