Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward), Ald. James Capplemean (46th Ward) and Chicago Pride Parade Organizer Richard Pfeiffer held a press conference at the corner of Montrose and Broadway Tuesday to explain details on the parade’s new route, safety concerns and plans for an increased crackdown on alcohol consumption in the streets.
Following record overcrowding and outbreaks of violence at the Chicago Pride Parade last year, parade organizers said that safety is their top concern this year and have implemented a new parade route to help ease crowds, which were estimated at 750,000 last year — over 50 percent more than the prior year.
The 2012 parade will kick off on noon Sunday from the corner of Montrose and Broadway in the Uptown neighborhood and the 46th Ward.
“As a city, we knew that some big changes needed to take place to keep this parade safe and welcoming and part of our neighborhood,” Tunney said. “We knew that the previous year route — which trapped many of the constituents in my ward between Halsted and Broadway for nearly the whole day — would no longer work. So we came up with a new direction: This year the Chicago Pride Parade will kick off at noon on Sunday right here at this corner, at Broadway and Montrose.”
The new strategy, Tunney said, is the result of a year-long effort by the city, parade organizers, local churches, chambers of commerce and community members. After all, the them of this year’s parade is “Pride Links Us Together,” said Pfeiffer. “I am glad to say we were all able to link together, listen closely and work towards a safer parade that celebrates the diversity of all our neighborhoods.”
Cappleman said he is happy to welcome the parade to his ward.
“The 46th Ward is delighted to have the Pride Parade start right here in the Uptown neighborhood,” said Ald. Cappleman, who remembered that in 1987, one of the reasons he left his teaching career to work in the public sector is that one of his co-workers was fired for observing a gay pride parade.
“Today, in 2012, we have two openly-gay aldermen who are having the gay pride parade in their wards. This is something that the City of Chicago should be very, very proud of,” he said.
Additionally, Tunney emphasized that the consumption of alcohol on a public way will not be tolerated.
“To all those potential spectators: This year, keep a lid on it. Leave those coolers at home and bring a water bottle instead. Or else you run the risk of getting a hefty ticket from Chicago Police, or a trip to lock-up,” said Tunney. “Moderation is the key for a successful parade.”
How Chicago Police will enforce such a crackdown with the number of attendees was not detailed.
“The real key here is to try to keep it a safe neighborhood parade for many, many years to come, and we think this is a step in the right direction,” Tunney said.