For first time at Pride Parade, couples exchange vows on floats
They danced and cheered.
They did cartwheels, waved fl ags, 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 fl oats. 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 i ncluded more military entries and more proud parents of LGBT children, Pfeiffer said. There were also marching bands, motorcycles, bagpipers, ball oons and rainbow fl ags 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, i ncluding 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 i n 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 val-ues you teach at home, re-specting differences, a real so shared in our soci-ety as a whole,” Emanuel said.
Crista Confiliano (left) and Kaylene Polansk attend the 45th Annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade on Sunday near Montrose Avenue and Broadway Street.