Chicago Pride Parade pays tribute to victims of Orlando shooting

ByLaura Podesta, John Garcia and Michelle Gallardo WLS logo
Monday, June 27, 2016
Pride Parade pays tribue to Orlando victims
Nearly 1 million people attended the 47th annual Pride Parade in Chicago on June 26, 2016.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The 47th annual Chicago Pride Parade kicked off Sunday with an emotional tribute to the victims of the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

A moment of silence was held before the parade started at noon and pictures of each of the 49 victims in the shooting two weeks ago were carried at the front of the parade.

Among those honored were Eddie Sotomayor, whose friend Jason Mendes-Mcallister returned to Chicago Sunday morning from Sotomayor's funeral in Sarasota, Fla.

"I heard about this contingent a couple days ago and I wanted to pay a tribute to Eddie," Mcallister said. "That's what I'm here for today."


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Nearly 1 million people lined the parade route, which started at Montrose then down Broadway, onto Halsted, to Belmont before turning back onto Broadway and ending on Diversey in Lincoln Park.

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, police took extra precautions. Security along the parade route was tight, a helicopter hovered overhead and Homeland Security officers were in place. Police added more officers to this year's celebration, with uniformed officers, undercover officers and K-9 units.

No arrests were made.

But the overall theme of the day for most was that love overcomes evil.

"There is still hate in the world and where there's hate, we're going to meet it with love. And where there is fear, we're going to meet it with hope," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who wore a shirt that read, "Disarm Hate."

One group marched with balloons that spelled out "1 PULSE" in remembrance of the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The parade this year was shorter, which is just one of several steps taken to address the pushback from some neighbors that the celebration has gotten out of control.

The weather Sunday was hot and humid, with highs near 90 degrees. Medical tents were set up along the parade route. Some people were treated for dehydration.

The parade's grand marshal was Monica Raymund of the "Chicago Fire" TV show. She has been living and working in Chicago for four years. She recently came out as bisexual and said she considers herself a proud member of the LGBTQ community.

Organizers said the crowd seemed bigger than ever. The Orlando massacre seemed to have prompted more people to come out in support of the community, they said.

The traditionally colorful parade continued with as much energy as ever.

"I just love being here. Having fun, being safe," said Umeca Agnew.

"I think it's more important this year based on everything that has happened in the last few weeks. It's nice to see the solidarity," Ricard Malony said.

Members of the ABC7 team also joined the parade, donning "Orlando Strong" T-shirts.

Watch the parade on ABC7 at 11:30 p.m. Sunday with Terrell Brown, Janet Davies, Rob Elgas and WXRT's Terri Hemmert anchoring coverage. The program will be available on-demand Monday morning at


Chicago police shut down the "Pride at Montrose" event at Montrose Beach Sunday afternoon.

The event was supposed to be protected by six-foot security fences, but police said organizers put up fences that were only half that height. The event was forced to close early.

The "Pride at Montrose" celebrates the strength and pride of the African American LGBT community.


The Orlando massacre was on the minds of many at the Pride Parade, but one homemade memorial stood out at the corner of North Halsted and West Brompton on the North Side.

Memorial creator Angie Wines printed the names and photos of each victim, then combed news reports and Facebook posts to write 49 unique stories about each individual.

"It was so hard to read through what had happened. I was really struggling to get through it and it took a while and I had to take a lot of breaks," Wines said.

The memorial took six days of near-constant work to complete. But Wines said it was worth it.

"It makes them more than just a face and a picture. It makes them into real human beings who have real lives, real families left behind," said Kate Hopkins, who was looking at the memorial.

Wines linked the laminated flyers with a chain to represent the LGBT community's unbroken bond.

"It could have happened to any of us, in any club, in any place in the United States, because we've all experienced that hate before," Wines said.

While Wines donated her time, the printing and lamination were donated by employees at a FedEx at Wellington and Clark in the Lakeview neighborhood.