CHICAGO (WLS) -- The pride parade in Chicago is back and was expected to be bigger than ever.
After the pandemic brought the event to a halt for two years, the 51st Annual Pride Parade returned to the North Side Sunday. In fact, 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney believed this parade would be the largest turnout the city has ever seen, and with that, he wanted more officers on the street.
He reached out to Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown to add more staffing. Brown said they dedicated more police resources than ever before given the high turnout, making sure it was a safe and successful parade.
Nearly 1 million people come out to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
"It's nice to be back and it's nice to see everybody doing whatever they want to do, you know what I mean? It's nice to be exactly who you want to be," said Jenny Mellette-Nichols, who lives in Berwyn.
The parade stepped off Sunday at noon from Montrose and Broadway in Uptown. The parade filled with spirited floats, dancers and music ,winded its way through the North Side, ending near Diversey Parkway and Sheridan in Lincoln Park.
"It's amazing! So much love and excitement," said Madeleine Botin, who came from Louisiana.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot walking alongside her wife in the parade, as did Governor JB Pritzker.
"I'm gender fluid and I wanted to show pride for being gender fluid," said Chicago resident Emma Crowley.
"I think it's important to be out and proud and to have people see that gay people are just like everyone else," added fellow Chicagoan Mike Coffman.
Pride in the Park also brought in thousands of people over the last two days with non-stop live music and drag performances in the heart of Chicago.
It's the ultimate finale to cap off a historic pride month in Chicago.
"It's amazing. We love it," said Redding Worth.
"Love is love! Love wins! Yes," Skyler Garcia added.
The Grant Park event is the second act to a pride filled weekend in the city, as the parade also returned to the city for the first time since 2019.
There was more fervor felt in the air this year, as Friday's Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade sent shockwaves through the gay community.
Many fearing other rights, like same-sex marriage, could be next after Justice Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion stated other precedents from the high court should be reconsidered.
"Every day that we're living is a part of history and I think that's pretty wild. The fact that gay marriage got legalized not even a couple years ago and we could get that taken away, it's like wow," said JP Parra, who lives in Joliet.
"We have a lot to be afraid of and we need to fight for and maintain our rights that have been granted to us by the Supreme Court. They should not be taking them away," Coffman added.
"We've always been a target of conservative legislators and all I'm going to say as it works as an activation will embolden us to be ourselves to go and fight against this," said Shea Couleé, a drag performer and activist.
That message resonating with everyone today from the north side all the way down to the Loop.
"We're always going to be here standing up for what we believe in which is our right to be treated like every other American," Couleé added.