Pride Parade Goes On Despite Vandalism Of 51 Floats

Updated 06/26/11 – 5:03 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) — Vandals who slashed the tires of 51 parade floats overnight couldn’t put a stop to the 42nd Annual Pride Parade on Sunday along Halsted Street on the North Side. Workers repaired most of the damage and the parade went on as planned.

Chicago police confirmed that someone punctured tires on several parade floats that were being stored at Associated Attractions Enterprises, Inc., a parade float business located in the 4800 block of South Halsted Street.

Owner Chuck Huser said all 51 floats being stored at the warehouse had two of their tires punctured overnight. He said organizers of the parade scrambled to replace as many tires as possible in time for the noon parade

In the end, repairs were made to all but three floats, they included Spin Nightclub and the Lambda legal fund, which lobbies for gay rights.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller Reports

Huser said his company makes more than 80 percent of the floats in the parade. He said that and his crews worked until about 8 p.m. Saturday at the warehouse and had finished the floats.

“We came here at 5 o’clock this morning to start pulling them out to get them to the 12 o’clock parade and we walked into our warehouse and we noticed all the floats were leaning to one side,” Huser said. “We looked and it was every single float had a knife hole in (two tires.)”

Police said that, as of Sunday afternoon, the vandalism was not being treated as a hate crime.

But Huser said he didn’t know what else to call it. Huser said he’s been in business for 36 years and this kind of vandalism has never happened before. He said there’s no doubt in his mind: he believes this was a hate crime.

The parade coordinator, Richard Pfeiffer, said he thinks it’s a hate crime, too.

“That’s my gut reaction, that it probably is.” Pfeiffer said. “Why would someone pick the night before the LGBT Pride Parade to do something like this?”

A spokesman for Police News Affairs said that, for now, it’s being investigated as criminal damage to property.

Chicago police could not immediately provide a crowd estimate, but organizers said turnout was similar to past parades, which drew crowds of about 400,000 people.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel Reports

Fernanda Rocha, the first lesbian cast member of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” is this year’s grand marshal.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn are among a host of elected officials planning to attend the parade this year.

And this year, the celebrations won’t only be along Halsted Street and Broadway. After the parade, a brand new Gay Pride festival will kick off in Rogers Park.

RELATED: Guide To Chicago Pride Parade

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RELATED: The Gay Rights Movement In Illinois: A History

In addition to the mayor and governor, an assortment of other elected officials – including aldermen, local elected officials, state lawmakers and members of Congress, participated in the parade.

New to the parade this year are the U.S. Peace Corps, the Chicago Teachers Union, and “Intactivists” from the anti-circumcision movement, according to the Chicago Tribune RedEye.

Organizers point out that alcohol consumption should not take place along the parade route, and anyone who brings coolers with alcoholic beverages is liable to get a costly ticket from police. But many bars along Halsted Street and Broadway are open for the parade.

City ordinance also forbids parade participants from tossing beads or other items to spectators, or for spectators tossing items back. Participants are also cautioned not to use high-powered squirt guns, as they could cause injuries.

While the party invariably goes on late into the night on Halsted Street after the parade, some revelers will head about four miles north to the Rogers Park neighborhood for the new Pride North festival.

From 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Pride North will take over Glenwood Avenue between Lunt and Morse avenues, right alongside the Red Line ‘L’ embankment. The cover band Sixteen Candles will be back for the festival, along with two DJs, Gay Chicago Magazine reported.

The magazine reported that Rogers Park has always been a neighborhood that has valued diversity, but was lacking in gay nightlife, which has long been concentrated in Boystown and Andersonville. But that has been changing lately with the revitalization of what is now being called the Glenwood Area Arts District, and the owners of new Glenwood Bar, 6962 N. Glenwood Ave., thought it was about time bring the festivities north, the magazine reported.

–WBBM Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller contributed to this report.

  • The Cryptojournalist

    Deplorable……high-powered water guns are banned from the parade rout? How will people dispense tequila shots from afar?

    Honestly, this is a stupid crime. Grow up, kids

  • Mike Leahy

    I have noticed that very few comments here are signed with their real name like I do. Could it be that you bigots are ashamed of what you say? Or are you just gutless?

    • ChicagoCitizen

      I’ve found that CBS is removing any comment not complimentary to the gay community. That is far worse than not using your real name. What happened to freedom of speach and the right to an opinion? Censorship is the most un-American thing a news outlet can engage in. CBS should feel ashamed for embracing this practice.

  • Al Pacino In Crusing

    It is not about the floats, it is about the dudes dressed like women and boy toys, and the women dressed like lumberjacks and my uncle tony,( he is a Teamster dockworker), thats what makes the parade so fun too watch. Will the only straight man in the crowd please stand up.

  • RoobAuthomete

    Nice post ! I will mark it in my favorites. thxx

  • A chicago straight White guy

    Ok the lumberjack and uncle tony comment is a bit ha ha .. But really has it come to this ? I mean how lame a tough guy can one be to vandalize a pride parade float under anonymity ? In essence being a fraidy cat is worst then being gay as you judge them for their sexual orientation don’t you think ?

  • Vicky

    Heterosexual Pride Day Parade! Date and time T.B.D.. Bring your things and pasties!

  • Vicky

    He tero Pride Day Parade! Date and Time T.B.D.. Bring your tho ngs and pas ties!!!!

  • Was Vandalism Of Pride Parade Floats A Hate Crime? « CBS Chicago

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  • Short circuit «

    […] requested the day off well in advance to get their rainbow booze-fest on. Today I learned that vandals tried to stop the parade but thanks to last-minute scrambling most of the parade floats rolled through […]

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