Up to 375,000 people turned out to watch 255 entries march, float, twirl and "Time Warp" through Sunday's 32nd annual Pride Parade, the largest in the city's history.
"We were pleased," said PrideChicago's Richard Pfeiffer. "It was the 32nd year we didn't get rained out."
Both those who marched in the parade and spectators agreed with the estimates that this year's event was the biggest, with hardly any spots along the route not swarming with people. Pfeiffer said that even the areas that his office usually tells people to set up if they're looking to avoid the crowds were heavily populated.
Depending on whom you ask, the number of spectators at this year's event was anywhere from 325,000 to 375,000. There were 255 entries—up from 248 last year—and 67 floats. Of the entries, 29 represented corporations, including GLBT employee groups within companies.
Corporate participants included: Peapod, Jewel/Osco, Motorola, WXRT, Bank One and Altoids.
There was also the ever-growing array of politicians, including a baton-twirling Maria Pappas, Cook County treasurer, and others.
A coalition of over 100 marchers used the parade as an opportunity to protest the actions of County State's Attorney Dick Devine. Chanting "Who let the pigs off? Dick, Dick Devine" and "Dick Devine, Dick Devine, prosecute police hate crimes," the group lodged itself directly in front of Devine's car carrying signs and banners. After some maneuvering, State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz ended up as a buffer between Devine and the protesters, who were with him for most of the route.
While Pfeiffer said the group's action was the reason for large gaps in the parade, Andy Thayer of the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network ( CABN ) put the blame on Devine.
"It was Devine who held up the parade and not us," Thayer said.
"He didn't want to get too close to us," said Bob Schwartz, also of CABN.
The coalition of protesters was organized by CABN, Queer to the Left, trans/action and Sangat.
Despite criticism from some parade organizers, CABN felt that the protest went well.
"We finally got people to connect with our message," Schwartz said.
In media reports, Devine defended his office, saying he would prosecute cases when the evidence warrants it. CABN and others have noted that Devine has never prosecuted a Chicago police officer for brutality.
"You can't tell me the police department is 100% clean," Thayer said.
This year's throng of anti-gay protesters was set up near the route's end, on Diversey. Among them was a man with a megaphone who yelled pointed remarks at each group or float that went by. At least one group—the mayor's Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian Issues—stopped their car to yell, "Shame!" at the protesters.
Awards this year went to: Boi Magazine, Best All-Around Float; Equality Illinois, Best Organization Float; Hunters, Best Business Float; Bonaventure House, Best Entry Using Theme; McHenry County Pride and Lakeside Pride Freedom Band, Special Parade Award.
Politicians who participated this year were:
U.S. Rep. Rod Blagojevich
Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court Dorothy Brown
Marty Castro, congressional candidate
Judge Tom Chiola
Ald. Vilma Colom
State Sen. John Cullerton
State Rep. Tom Dart
Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine
State Rep. Judy Erwin
State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz
State Rep. John Fritchey ( D-33rd )
Judge Robert E. Gordon
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez
Ald. Bernie Hansen
Sheldon Harris, candidate for judge
Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard
Cook County Assessor James Houlihan
State Comptroller Dan Hynes
Judge Nancy Katz
State Rep. Louis Lang
City Clerk James Laski, Jr.
State Sen. Lisa Madigan
Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado
State Rep. Larry McKeon
Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore
Ald. Joe Moore
Hampton, Ill., Mayor Scott Newberg
46th Ward streets and sanitation Superintendent Don Nowotny
State Rep. Harry Osterman ( D-17th )
Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas
Judge Sebastian Patti
Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley
46th Ward Committeeman Sandra Reed
State Sen. Carol Ronen
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky
John Schmidt, Democratic candidate for governor
Jeff Schoenberg, candidate for state treasurer
Ald. Eugene Schulter
Judge Colleen Sheehan
Ald. Helen Shiller
Joe Slovinec, congressional candidate
State Rep. Cynthia Soto
Secretary of State Jesse White
Ald. Michael A. Wojcik
Governmental agencies included:
Chicago Park District
Chicago Public Art Program, Department of Cultural Affairs
Chicago Department of Public Health
Chicago Transit Authority
Forest Preserve District of Cook County