Chicago Pride Parade crowd tops 1 million

July 1, 2013

WBEZ/Mariam Sobh
A spectator turns his back to the parade as Gov. Pat Quinn passes by.

Chicago police say more than 1 million participated in the Chicago's Pride Parade.

The number is a big spike from last year's roughly 850,000. Organizers said the Supreme Court's recent decisions energized people and pleasant weather during the day helped.

A coalition of supporters known as Illinois Unites for Marriage had promised a diverse, statewide group at the event.

The annual Pride Parade took place Sunday on the city’s North Side.

It kicked off at noon on Montrose Avenue and Broadway Street, eventually winding its way down to Diversey Parkway and Sheridan Road on Chicago’s North Side.

The Illinois Senate approved legislation in February that would legalize same-sex marriage. But the House adjourned last month without voting on the measure, after sponsor Rep. Greg Harris said he didn't have the votes for it to pass.

But most attendees didn’t have politics on their mind as they danced and celebrated pride for the gay community.

State politicians made an appearance despite the fact that they didn’t call the same sex marriage bill up for a vote in the Illinois House just a few weeks ago.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn made his way down the parade route and even though he’s expressed his support for same sex marriage, riled up a few people in the crowd.

Erin Dunmoore from Will County said she felt like he and others were pandering to the crowd.

“They are talking the talk but not doing what counts, so that’s disappointing.”

Some people in attendance were there for the first time.

Karen Enciso came from Mexico and said she was quite impressed with the turnout.

“I’m straight, but we are individuals, there has to be no difference. Sexuality is a decision and everyone has to be free for that.”

Alexander Roi, who has attended the parade for the last 17 years, said Illinois needs to step up and move towards equality for all.

“Everybody else is going to be doing it. It’s about taxes, it’s about rights, it’s about everything equal for everyone.”

Mariam Sobh is the midday and weekend news anchor at WBEZ. Follow her @mariamsobh. The Associated Press contributed to this report.