City officials are making some pretty big changes to the annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade for next year, altering the parade route and changing the start time in order to help better manage the massive crowds and curb public drinking.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that instead of the parade looping through the East Lakeview neighborhood known as "Boys Town" due to its plethora of LGBT bars and nightclubs, the parade route will be stretched much farther north to Montrose Street. The parade will also step off from this northern point instead of the previously traditional spot of Belmont and Halsted. The parade will still end in a celebration at Diversey Avenue and Cannon Drive in Lincoln Park.
The city has also shifted the start time from noon to 10 a.m., thinking that the earlier time will mean more spectators will opt for drinking orange juice and coffee, staving off the alcohol soaked party the parade route usually becomes. Parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer was quoted as saying, "Unless you're a hard-core drinker, most people don't drink at 10 o'clock in the morning."
Alderman Tom Tunney, who's district contains the parade route, told the Sun-Times that he felt the parade had "outgrown" the neighborhood and that there was "a real concern for public safety" due to the increase in attendance that he attributes to an increased tolerance of the LGBT community.
Tunney added, "To accommodate that increase, we needed to make changes to help make it a safer event."
Read more about next year's parade in my Chicago Gay Pride Parade profile.
Photo by Steve Stearns