Thousands turn out for Gay Pride Parade

June 28, 2009 (CHICAGO) It has attracted more than 4,000 people in the past years. This year, the crowds carried on the tradition with marching bands, colorful costumes and a message of equal rights.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, crowds packed the Gay Pride Parade route in Lakeview, sharing in the experience.

"The energy, the people, the pride; the freedom to be who we are. It's amazing," said Richard Arand.

"My favorite part is spending time with people who are happy, and that's what counts in this world, is being happy," Chasstin Williams told ABC7 Chicago.

"You can get all the gay community here [at] one time, and the energy is so hot. It's amazing. It's so much fun," Erich Zett said.

Many have been making the parade an annual event for years. Others came to the parade for the first time, wanting to celebrate and make a statement.

"Pride. Equality. Hope for equality," said Ernesto Garza.

Crowds danced along with performers in the parade, many of whom made statements in support of gay marriage.

Politicians who walked the parade say it is a hot-button issue for the state.

"We believe in tolerance in Illinois. We believe that everybody is in, and nobody is left out," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

That's why one woman, Lori Green, and her daughter, Ashley, travelled to the parade.

"We come from a small town where it's not really accepted, and not very many know who she [Ashley] is. So, I wanted her to be around people who she could be comfortable around," Lori Green said.

"I wanted to be around other people who are like me," said Ashley Green.

The parade stepped off at 12 p.m. from the corner of Halsted and Belmont on Chicago's North Side.

For more information on the parade, click here.

Video of the broadcast of the "The 40th Annual Gay Pride Parade" will be available on-demand at starting Monday afternoon.

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