Increased security may keep Pride Parade from moving downtown

Thu. July 2, 2015 8:09 AM by Andy Ambrosius

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Officials agree enhanced security helped deter excessive mayhem, but will it be enough to keep the Chicago Pride Parade on the North Side?

Chicago, IL - While an official decision regarding the fate of the Chicago Pride Parade is still in limbo, area officials say the added security measures along the route caused a notable difference in Pride-related mayhem in 2015.

Besides the surge in additional Chicago Police Department officers, organizers hired 90 additional off-duty officers to keep crowds under control. That's in addition to alcohol checkpoints, increased fines for open containers and late-night Boystown bars voluntarily choosing to close early.

In total, 52 parade-related arrests were made during the festivities, a slight increase over last year's grand total of 45, and the exact same number of people who were arrested in 2013. Eight of the arrests this year were a result of the #BlackOutPride protest that brought the parade to a halt for about 10 minutes, while a majority of others were misdemeanor charges.

Still, Lakeview and Uptown officials say the additional security seemingly had a positive effect on the annual event in 2015.

"I had an hour-long security call [Wednesday] morning, and relative to last year, I think all the heightened PR around the security and the additional officers from CPD and private security made for a safer environment," Northalsted Business Alliance Executive Director Christopher Barrett Politan told "We were pleased to work with the advisory group and start the conversation with parade organizers on the need for security, and those 90 off-duty officers proved extraordinarily helpful."

Executive director of Business Partners, the chamber of commerce for Uptown, told the Chicago Tribune "this was the most tame, the most well behaved crowd they ever had," adding that people even told him it was a little boring. Further down the route, Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Maureen Martino said she didn't see any coolers this year, which contributes to drinking problem during the day.

However, she added there were some crowd issues stemming from a lack of parade crossing areas. That's in addition to a need for more security after the parade, as the crowd is a much different animal. But during the parade, she noticed the additional officers, as well.

"The police presence and extra security was more than past years and well needed for the crowds," Martino said. "This was a historic year with the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage and with the addition of the Stanley Cup, this was the largest crowd in the history of the parade."

It's comments like these – along with those from parade organizer Richard Pfeiffer and North Side neighbors – that will contribute to elected officials like Lakeview Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) making a more official announcement on where the parade will call home in 2016.

"There will be an upcoming meeting with city departments to recap this year's Pride Parade and opportunities for the future," Tunney's Director of Communications & Community Outreach said in an email. "No decision has been made at this point whether or not the parade will stay in Lakeview. Crews are working around the clock this week to clean up our neighborhood."

Barrett Politan says he thinks the city and area alderman made a good decision to engage with an advisory group about ways to improve the parade. It was that group that developed the idea of implementing barricaded alcohol checkpoints in The Alleyways, which he believes helped curb the usual alcohol-related issues during the event.

"It proved to be very helpful in dispersing the crowd more evenly, and it provided another checkpoint to encourage people to obey open container laws that CPD made very public," he said. "So from that front, I can say it was a successful technique."

No official date has been announced regarding the next city or advisory group meeting.

2015 Chicago Pride Parade Photos: Gallery One | Gallery Two | All Photos

Related: Chicago Pride Parade features marriage equality, Stanley Cup and protest