Aurora's first Pride parade steps off Sunday

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Aurora will make history Sunday when its first-ever Pride parade steps off downtown at noon. Parade organizers emphasized Aurora's parade will feel different than the one in Chicago.

"This isn't Chicago. Chicago's Pride parade fits Chicago's personality," said Chuck Adams, executive director and founder of Indivisible Aurora, a progressive community advocacy group that pushed for the parade permit. "What we were really careful to do is make sure we had a Pride parade that aligned with the values of this city, so it will be family friendly."

Adams said the idea started after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida, where a gunman killed 49 people in 2016. At the time, Adams said community members wanted to pay tribute to the shooting victims and realized there was not a Pride parade in Aurora. From there, Indivisible Aurora, which advocates for LGBTQ issues, gender equality, and immigration and refugee rights, worked to make the parade happen.

"In Aurora, this is an inclusive community where everybody is welcomed, everybody is loved, everybody is affirmed," said Adams. "And, more importantly, for people who are struggling with their sexual identity, is that things get better."

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has supported the parade.

"Mayor Irvin, being a top leader, really leads by example," said Mike Nelson, Aurora's special events coordinator. "He likes to throw the phrase out, 'One Aurora.' That means everybody."

On Sunday, organizers expect thousands of people to attend.

In all they are expecting 15,000 to 25,000 supporters, 60 parade units, 3,000 parade marchers, 11 faith communities and 80 volunteers.

The Pride parade will take place in downtown Aurora, where business windows are already decorated, welcoming parade goers to stop by and shop. Andria Sosa, a cafe manager at Tredwell Coffee, already feels the support.

"If you call Aurora home and you're a part of this community, it lets you know you have a family no matter what," Sosa said. "I think that's something a lot of people struggle with, so it's nice to have that surrounding community."

One alderman abstained from voting on the parade permit but, overall, the mayor and others supported the move. Sosa added that it's a bold move for the city, especially outside of Chicago.

"I applaud Aurora for taking that stance and not really caring what others have to say about that - so it's really exciting," she said.

The parade grand marshal will be Jim Corti, the artistic director at the Paramount Theatre. If you would like to learn more about the parade, please visit Indivisible Aurora's Pride parade website.
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