Chicago's Pride Parade steps off at noon amid tighter security

Sun. June 26, 2016 8:52 AM by News Staff

chicago pride parade, 2015

photo credit // eamonn sexton

Chicago’s iconic parade to commemorate and celebrate the Orlando shooting victims

Chicago, IL - More than one million people are expected in the Uptown and Lakeview neighborhoods Sunday for Chicago's annual Pride Parade, and organizers are promising a fun, festive and safe experience for participants and celebrants.

Many in the LGBT community say the parade has taken on a new importance this year in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting and Sunday will prove to be an emotional day.

At 11:59 a.m., a moment of silence will be held for the victims. Then the parade will kick-off with a tribute to the 49 killed at Pulse nightclub, sponsored by Windy City Times and Followed by the color guard headed up by the "Scouts For Equality" who will be carrying several flags including the State of Florida in honor of the Orlando victims.

"We're looking forward to commemoration but also a celebration," longtime parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer told

When the parade steps off at noon on Sunday, there will be 55 less entries, down from 215 that participated in 2015. Reducing the total to 160 entries should reduce the overall length of the parade by 30 or 45 minutes, said Pfeiffer.

The grand marshal for this year's parade is "Chicago Fire" star Monica Raymund.

Related: Interview with Monica Raymund

Large crowds - estimated at one million people - are expected again this year as Chicagoans plan to show they won't be cowed by threats.

"This year it's even more important for us to get out there and wave our flags in the face of terrorism," said Orin Wojciechowski, 39, of Uptown.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked Chicagoans to "not cower in the face of terrorism or terrorists who are trying to intimidate us."

Even before concerns over the Orlando tragedy, parade organizers announced a plan to increase the security presence along the 21-block parade route, nearly doubling the number of off-duty police officers from 90 last year to 160 this year.

"Security is of the utmost importance for the Pride Parade," Pfeiffer said.

There will be an increased presence of uniformed police officers, including officers on bike, civilian-dressed officers throughout the event and specially trained canines. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson stressed there is no evidence of a threat against the LGBT community in Chicago.

Sunday morning's thunderstorms are expected to clear in time for the parade and the day will be hot and humid with the highs near 90 degrees. Organizers remind people to stay hydrated. 

Last year, a record crowd turned out to celebrate a major milestone with the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.

Related: Chicago Pride Parade ranked second most popular in the U.S.

Related: History of the Chicago Pride Parade

The 47th annual Chicago Pride Parade begins at Broadway and Montrose in the Uptown neighborhood. The parade will then travel south on Broadway; then south on Halsted; then east on Belmont; then south on Broadway; then east on Diversey to Cannon Drive.

Here's everything you need to know for the 2016 Chicago Pride Parade