Increased security in effect for this weekend's Pride Fest

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Orlando shooting did not dampen the mood at Saturday's Chicago Pride Fest as thousands flocked to Boystown.

But with thoughts of the deadly shooting still fresh in the minds of many, Pride Fest is stepping up security, both seen and unseen, to keep everyone safe.

There will be uniformed police officers, on foot and on bike, K9 units and there will be an undercover presence in Boystown as well.

100,000 people are expected to turn out to Boystown for Pride Fest Saturday and Sunday. That number will climb to 1 million visitors for Pride Parade next weekend.

Paying tribute to the victims, Saturday's headliner Jordin Sparks, performed John Lennon's "Imagine." It was a touching moment coming at the end of a day that's been full of reminders, starting with the security lines to get into Pride Fest.

Last week's Orlando shooting has prompted organizers to put in two security lines. There was one line for people without bags and one for people with bags, all of which are subject to getting searched.

"We got the word out fairly assertively, ahead of time about not bringing bags. And if you do bring bags, expect longer waits," Christopher Barrett Politan, North Halsted Business Alliance, said.

The bags checks where just one component of the extensive security plans in place for Pride Fest, which included private security as well as CPD patrols, all designed to make people feel safe.

"Less than a week after Orlando, it feels great to come out and celebrate in a very very safe environment," Barrett Politan said.

"We're looking forward to a fun and safe event," Jennifer Gordon Pride Fest organizer said.

Boystown is filled with posters about Pride Fest, colors of the rainbow and a memorial to the victims of the Orlando shooting continues to grow with more candles and flowers. Businesses' windows are painted with quotes reading "from Halsted to Orlando" and "love is love."

That being said, police and the FBI are on high alert about a potential attack.

They want to make clear there is no specific threat but that's not stopping them from stepping up the intelligence around the 47th Annual Pride Fest.

Fest organizers are hoping this fest could be bigger than ever because people will come out to listen to the music, eat good food, and support the LGBT community.

"People have very heavy hearts right now about the tragedy in Orlando and certainly that's front and center for people's minds but this is even more of a reason for people to get out and not live in fear, let people know that we are proud," Gordon said.

The FBI and Chicago police keep emphasizing, that it's up to the community to also be on alert. It you see something, say something and call 911.

The festival started at 11 a.m. and goes on until 10 p.m.
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