With attendance continuing to rise, Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade organizers have rerouted Sunday’s celebration to include the Uptown neighborhood.
Organizers say the parade route has also been extended by five blocks for safety and crowd control.
Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th, said the organizers knew changes were necessary when last year’s parade drew 750,000 people, up from 200,000 just five years earlier.
“We knew the previous year’s route, which trapped many constituents in my ward between Halsted and Broadway for nearly the whole day, would no longer work,” Tunney said. “Last year, we had too much congestion in the central Lakeview neighborhood.”
Instead of stepping off at Halsted Street and Belmont Avenue, as it has for the last 20 years, Tunney said this year’s parade will start farther north at Montrose Avenue and Broadway and head south through the Uptown and Lakeview neighborhoods, wrapping up at Diversey Street and Cannon Drive.
The parade has also been tightened to 200 participating groups, down from 250.
Tunney, Ald. James Cappleman, 46th, and parade organizers gathered Tuesday to talk about the changes to the parade route and the reasons behind the decision.
The main reason is to increase safety, an issue Tunney said the group has been working on since the day after last year’s parade. The new route is intended to create more viewing space and additional access to public transportation, he said.
“We’ll also be able to open the streets back up to the community more quickly after the parade is finished as soon as possible,” Tunney said.
This year’s parade will wind past Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, but Tunney said the church has been supportive about being along the route. Organizers considered moving the parade to a 10 a.m. start time, but stuck with noon so Mount Carmel could celebrate Masses and get parishioners in and out before the parade, he said.
Max Bever, a spokesman for Tunney, said last year’s route created a “huge crunch” of parade-goers at the Belmont and Halsted intersection.
The CTA’s Belmont station had
This article originally appeared on: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-pride-parade-route-20120620,0,3379169.story