Perfect day for Pride: Chicago Pride Parade 2018

Mon. June 25, 2018 11:19 AM by News Staff

photo credit // steven koch

Chicago shows its pride at 49th annual Pride Parade

Chicago, IL - The 49th annual Chicago Pride Parade experienced near perfect weather, as spectators crowded the streets, rooftops and balconies from Uptown to Lincoln Park to celebrate the LGTBQ community on Sunday, June 24.

Sunny skies and a temperature in the low 70's greeted spectators and participants alike as 150 colorful and festive floats, decorated vehicles, performance groups, and more traveled the 21-block route through Chicago's Uptown and Lakeview neighborhoods before ending in Lincoln Park. This year's parade theme was "Remember the Past, Create the Future."

Riding in a convertible near the front of the parade procession, Orlando "El Fenomeno" Cruz, the first openly gay active professional boxer, served as Grand Marshal.

With both federal midterm and state gubernatorial elections in November, there was no shortage of politicians. All mayoral candidates, who plan to challenge Rahm Emanuel in 2019, participated, including openly-lesbian Lori Lightfoot, Paul Vallas, Dorothy Brown, Gary McCarthy and Ja'Mal Green. Emanuel marched at the head of the parade with the message "One Chicago."

Balloons By Tommy had one of the strongest showings of any again this year. With about 40,000 balloons, the company spelled out its 2018 theme, "Harmony."

"The current climate of the country is so divided, (yet) harmony is what we are all striving for, and we hope to remind people of this ... at least for a moment. It's what we need right now," owner Tommy DeLorenzo told

Another favorite each year is Sidetrack's unique and creative float featuring Dixie Lynn Cartwright and plenty of sex men and women. Sidetrack's theme was "Lead with Love."

"In the current political climate, it is important to remember that leading with love will always make the world a better place," Sidetrack GM Brad Balof told

According to Balof, the planning for their parade entry began in mid-April and was the collaboration of many people, including marketing and promotions manager Bryan Smith, designer Roger Wykes, graphic designer Jackie Weinberg, and others.

Security remained tight and there was no shortage of police.

And, some off-duty Chicago Police officers participated in the parade aboard the Lesbian Gay Police Association float. A CPD cruiser was also decked out with a rainbow decal on its hood.

The parade ran 2 hours and 46 minutes from step-off until the last entry crossed, that's 17 minutes longer than last year. An official crowd estimate has not yet been released by the city, but some suggest nearly one million people moved in and out of the Lakeview and Uptown neighborhoods throughout the day.

The annual Chicago Pride Parade, one of the largest in the country, is coordinated by PRIDEChicago.

View hundreds of 2018 Chicago Pride Parade photos 

Related: A look back at the Chicago Pride Parade: 1970 - 2017