Chicago Pride Parade, other large events forced to downscale, make major changes because of DNC

ByAnn Pistone and Jason Knowles WLS logo
Friday, June 28, 2024
Chicago Pride Parade, large events forced to downscale because of DNC
The Chicago Pride Parade and other events this summer were asked by city leaders to be scaled back to help reduce overtime pay due amid the 2024 DNC.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago is always busy in the summer, but on top of all of the events, festivals and parades, the city is will be hosting the Democratic National Convention.

This year, the Chicago Pride Parade and other long-established parades, including Bud Billiken, are being asked by city leaders to scale back.

Overtime for police and other city workers is a major concern. The ABC7 I-Team is finding out the major changes parades are making to reduce that overtime.

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Since 1970, The Chicago Pride Parade has rolled out the rainbows for all, becoming a regional, even a national, event of acceptance. However, this year's parade will be scaled back and the route shortened by about six blocks

.

"You know, my concern is more optically speaking," said Kevin Morrison, a Cook County Commissioner in the 15th District. "Does it look like Pride is under attack? What I would say to them, this is about making sure that everyone who attends is safe."

Morrison and other politicians are being asked to reduce their group sizes in the parade route.

We are scaling back on events this summer, parades being one of them... The DNC is coming in August and it requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.
Jackie Rosa, Chicago's Deputy Mayor of Community Engagement

"In the past we were able to have a banner and around 10 supporters walk with you," Morrison said. "This year, it isunfortunately being consolidated so us elected officials are being asked to only bring one person with us. So it's going to be a lot smaller."

Instead of separate entries, schools will be consolidated to one large group. Organizers have said that float entries this year are capped at 150. Some years there have been as many as 200.

"I think we are all very disappointed about the parade being shortened particularly because there was no real engagement with the community early on," Mony Ruiz-Velasco, Deputy Director of Equality Illinois, said. "What we've heard from the city has been multiple versions of why they are looking to shorten the parade, including things like police shifts, police resources."

Ruiz-Velasco also sits on an independent board that advises the mayor's office on LGBTQ+ issues.

RELATED | Chicago Pride Guide: What to know before you go to the 2024 Pride Parade

Chicago's Deputy Mayor of Community Engagement, Jackie Rosa, told the I-Team that because of the DNC, the city needs to reduce overtime for police and other city workers.

"We are scaling back on events this summer, parades being one of them," Rosa said.

Yeah, it's unfortunate, but we are still hopeful... they're making sure that the parade goes a little faster.
Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, President and CEO of the Chicago Defender, Bud Billiken parade organizer

The I-Team researched police overtime data from June 1 to August 3 of last year. The city spent $73.2 million in CPD overtime pay.

"The DNC is coming in August and it requires an all-hands-on-deck approach," says Rosa. "It's also about city workers working to best of ability to ensure a safe route and that they are also able to have great working conditions."

"Yeah, it's unfortunate, but we are still hopeful, cause we're celebrating 95 years of Bud Billiken," Myiti Sengstacke-Rice, President and CEO of the Chicago Defender, said.

Sengstacke-Rice said parade entries will not be denied, but that the August parade will be streamlined.

"Then there's a group of marshals, and they're making sure that the parade goes a little faster," Sengstacke-Rice said. "We had this problem already where there were a lot of gaps because people would stop and perform when they weren't supposed to."

Organizers of the Pride Parade would not talk on camera, but in a statement said, "We want to reaffirm that the Chicago Pride Parade is not just an event, it has been a beacon of hope, resilience, and strength for half a century. The changes underscore the importance of adapting to meet the needs of our city while preserving the spirit and legacy of our parade."

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert saying that foreign terrorist organizations could be targeting Pride events nationwide, but no there is no specific threat to Chicago.

RELATED | ABC 7 Chicago celebrates Pride with live broadcast from 53rd annual Pride Parade

"We need to be visible for the trans kids who are suffering attacks all around us," Ruiz-Velasco said. "We need to make sure that LGBT kids know that it shouldn't have to take courage to live as you are authentically and the parade is a place where people often first come to really be themselves."

The 53rd Chicago Pride Parade will be held Sunday an hour earlier at 11 a.m., which should also help to reduce overtime by ensuring a police shift change can happen in the late afternoon.