For first time at Pride Parade, couples exchange vows on floats
BY JON SEIDEL Staff Reporter June 29, 2014 7:30PM
Updated: August 1, 2014 6:22AM
They danced and cheered.
They did cartwheels, waved flags, kissed cops and greeted every open palm with a high-five.
But for the first time — in front of what might have been the largest crowd in the history of Chicago’s Pride Parade — they also got married.
That pleased Ashley Barton, who hails from Indiana and was among what Chicago officials estimate were more than 1 million people who came out to watch the 45th annual parade. It kicked off less than a month after same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois.
“We’re on the winning side now,” Barton said.
Parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer said the official crowd total tops last year’s estimate of 850,000 to 1 million people. He said this year’s parade had 210 entries, 70 of which were floats. And atop some of those, he said same-sex couples were saying their vows.
It’s all a far cry from the first Pride Parade — which Pfeiffer described as 150 people marching down the sidewalk.
“It’s a different world we live in now,” Pfeiffer said. “Back then people were afraid to be on camera.”
This year the parade included more military entries and more proud parents of LGBT children, Pfeiffer said. There were also marching bands, motorcycles, bagpipers, balloons and rainbow flags aplenty.
When all was said and done, Chicago police said there were few incidents despite the size of the crowd. They said they made eight arrests, including one for criminal damage to a police vehicle.
Sixty elected officials took part, Pfeiffer said, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who suffered a heart attack earlier this month, also rode in the parade.
Before it began, Emanuel said the legalization of gay marriage is important to him as a parent.
“We can raise our kids in a society where the values you teach at home, respecting differences, are also shared in our society as a whole,” Emanuel said.