47th annual Chicago Pride Parade pays tribute to Orlando shooting victims

Mon. June 27, 2016 9:23 AM by GoPride.com News Staff

First commemoration, then celebration Sunday as 1 million celebrate at Chicago Pride Parade

Chicago, IL - The 47th annual Chicago Pride Parade opened Sunday with a moment of silence at Broadway and Montrose honoring the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

When the parade stepped off at noon, a group of marchers led the parade carrying signs with pictures of each of the 49 victims shot and killed at the gay nightclub, Pulse on June 12.

At the front of the line was an emotional Jason Mendes-McAllister, a Chicago resident carrying a banner for his slain friend, Edward Sotomayor Jr.

"Love will always conquer hate, and we have to remember that." he said. 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel greeted Mendes-McAllister and the other volunteers leading the parade. 

"There is still hate in the world and where there's hate, we're going to meet it with love. And where there is fear, we're going to meet it with hope," said Emanuel, who wore a shirt that read, "Disarm Hate."

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, this year's parade saw heavy security and huge crowds, estimated by the Chicago Office of Emergency Management at 1 million people.

Hundreds of polices officers and FBI agents were stationed along the parade route from Uptown to Lakeview with visible K-9 units, swat teams, rooftop surveillance and the police helicopter hovering overhead.

Overall 160 festive and colorful entries marched the 21-block parade route before ending on Diversey in Lincoln Park. That number is down from the 215 that participated in 2015. 

Among the crowd favorites was the message "1 Pulse" spelled out in balloons followed by a message of "Love" and "Peace". The entry by Balloons by Tommy included 49,000 balloons, which took 3 days to inflated, carried by 90 people.

"To us, it was important to spread a message of peace, love, and happiness," owner Tommy DeLorenzo told ChicagoPride.com. "The world needs more of it right now." 

Other entries included Asians and Friends, Benny the Bull, Bozo the Clown atop the WGN float, Chicago Spirit Brigade, CMSA, Gay Liberation Network, Grab Magazine, Lakeview East Chamber, Miss Foozie with Paws Chicago, Orbitz, Chicago ROTC, Roscoe's, Sidetrack and Scouts for Equality carrying several flags including the State of Florida in honor of the Orlando victims.

"Chicago Fire" star Monica Raymund was the parade's grand marshal. 

Among the elected and non-elected officials and candidates who participated were Emanuel; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk; Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs; state Reps.Greg Harris, Kelly Cassidy, Ann Williams, Christian Mitchell and Jaime Andrade, Jr.; state Sens. Tom Cullerton and Daniel Biss; U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley; Alds. Deb Mell, Tom Tunney, Ray Lopez, James Cappleman, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Pat Dowell and Joe Moore; City Clerk Susana Mendoza; Commissioner Mona Noriega of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations; Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos; state senate candidate Omar Aquino; and state house candidate Theresa Mah.

No arrests were made, according to police. 

The annual parade is organized every year by Richard Pfeiffer of PRIDEChicago. Chicago, Los Angeles and New York were the first marches in 1970, following the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

2016 Chicago Pride Parade Photos