Slashed float tires repaired; Pride Parade goes on
June 26, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Thousands of people crowded the streets on Sunday for Chicago's 42nd Annual Gay Pride Parade.
"This is awesome. We come here every year and this is the best," said parade goer Connie Pfursach.
The parade stepped off on the city's North Side, celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
"That's what we're committing ourselves to today -- celebrating our gains and committing ourselves to our future," said parade goer Rick Garcia.
"It's like proud to be everything -- black, white, gay, straight, Jewish. It don't matter. It's just being proud," said parade goer Eddie Ferrell.
Fernanda Rocha,the first lesbian cast member of the reality show "The Real Housewives of Orange County," was the grand marshal of this year's event, which is Chicago's second largest parade. It is attended by over 400,000 spectators and has 250 musical groups, other performers and floats, including ABC7's.
But the event had a rocky start Sunday morning after 51 of the parade floats had their tires slashed while being stored in a warehouse.
"Why would someone pick a float company the night before the Gay Pride Parade?" said parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer. "So in my gut, in my heart, it has something to do with anti-gay sentiment."
Workers repaired most of the damage, and the show went on.
While an energetic Mayor Rahm Emanuel stirred up the rainbow flag-waving throngs who lined Halsted, New York's passage of a gay marriage bill along with Illinois' new civil unions law had a special meaning for many couples at the parade.
"He said, 'How do you feel about a weekend trip to New York?' I'm like 'Really? You're seriously proposing to me this way?' And he's like, 'Yeah!' And I'm like, 'Yeah, I'll do it!'" said Wil Kocol, standing beside his partner Steven Huebner at the parade.
New to the parade were teachers representing the Chicago Teachers Union as well as Caesar Simpkins.
"I just came out. I figured I'd come down here and enjoy it," Simpkins said.
If you missed the parade, or want to see it again, tune in to ABC7 at 11:35 p.m. Sunday. Janet Davies hosts the parade coverage. You can also watch the parade on-demand on www.abc7chicago.com.
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