Aurora's first ever gay pride parade is Sunday

Fri. June 15, 2018 2:16 PM by News Staff

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Aurora pride parade promises to be family-friendly and inclusive

Aurora, IL - Aurora will host its very first gay pride parade this weekend. The Inaugural Pride Parade, hosted by Indivisible Aurora, is expected to draw thousands of people to the state's second largest city.

"For the first time LGBTQ people in the western suburbs have a pride celebration," organizer Gwyn Ciesla told "This parade is to show both the LGBTQ members of the community and the community at large that Aurora is a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ people, especially our young people."

The pride parade was officially approved by the Aurora City Council in March.

"The collective desire for this event has been pent up for a long time," said Ciesla, who has seen strong interest from the western suburbs to Chicago.

The June 17 parade starts at noon and will feature 60 entries, a limit set by the city. Participants include gay-straight alliances, LGBTQ groups, bands, businesses, dancers, politicians and faith organizations. Jim Corti, Artistic Director of Paramount Theatre, will serve as Grand Marshal. HRC Chicago along with the Lakeside Pride will represent the Windy City.

The half-mile parade route starts at South River Street and West Benton Street and continues southeast on West Benton Street to northeast on South Broadway to northwest on West Downer Place, ending on South River Street and West Downer Place.

Ciesla told the Aurora event isn't meant to compete with the 49th annual Chicago Pride Parade slated for June 24.

"Every pride celebration reflects the community in which it takes place," she said. "This parade will, by it's nature, reflect Aurora and surrounding communities."

She said one major reason for the parade is so Aurora's LGBTQ community doesn't have to travel far to show their pride.

"This is especially true for LGBTQ youth, especially if they lack a supportive family, because getting to Chicago can be a challenge," said Ciesla, who is director of Indivisible Aurora's LGBTQ and Alliance team.

At least 11 businesses, listed on the parade website as "Pride Stops" are offering specials on parade day, including cheap pizza, drink deals, buy-one-get-one pastries, discounted apparel and $1-per-minute chair massages.

If the event goes well, organizers may try to expand next year to include more of a festival environment.