Pride Parade 2014: Chicago police to crack down on rooftop parties

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Chicago police will target parties on rooftops and balconies along the Pride Parade route. (WLS)

A crackdown is planned for this weekend's Pride Parade. Chicago police are targeting parties on rooftops and balconies along the parade route through the city's Lakeview community.

It's been 11 years since people were killed in a porch collapse in Lincoln Park. To avoid another tragedy, police are warning people along the parade route about the dangers of having too many spectators on rooftops and balconies.

Sheldon Rosenbaum has seen it all. For years, the Lakeview merchant has watched the Pride Parade from his Halsted Street store, Boystown T's and Collectables. As the parade has grown, Rosenbaum says, so has the danger.

"I know that people go on top of the roof of this building here, which is not a rooftop, and we wound up with all kinds of holes in our awning from cigarettes, all kinds of things falling down. Bottles have fallen," said Rosenbaum.

Because Chicago's Pride Parade has become one of the largest pride events in the world, balconies and rooftops are usually packed with spectators. This year, police are warning people to stay off rooftops which are not designated to have parties or occupants. The city also plans to strictly enforce rules against balconies, decks and porches that are over capacity.

"It's all about promoting safety. Any accident that happens is one too many," said Ald. James Cappleman, 46th Ward.

Pride organizers welcome the strict enforcement. They hope a crackdown on rooftop and balcony parties, combined with a changed parade route, will help accommodate the growing crowds.

"That is why three years ago, we lengthened the parade route. It's been a really big help because more people have left the crowded areas of the parade and have gone further north," said Richard Pfeiffer, Pride Parade coordinator.

In addition, police are increasing the fines up to $1,000 for public drinking at the parade. Lakeview residents and merchants say it is all good, as long as there are enough police officers to enforce the rules.

"I don't know how effective it's going to be, I think that it's a good idea, you have to start somewhere," said Molly Reynolds, resident.

"There are not enough officers to enforce what's going on on the balconies, let alone all the alcohol that's on the street," said Rosenbaum.

The Pride Parade kicks off Sunday at noon. It begins at Montrose and Broadway before making its way down Halsted Street. It will wind up at Diversey and Sheridan in Lincoln Park.
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