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Area Business Not Pleased With New Route For Gay Pride Parade

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(credit: Jonathan Mathias / www.jonathanmathias.com)

(credit: Jonathan Mathias / http://www.jonathanmathias.com)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — An East Lakeview neighborhood pizzeria is none too pleased that its stretch of Broadway has been eliminated from the Gay Pride Parade route.

Organizers announced Wednesday that the parade route will change next year, following problems with crowd control and public drinking among the crowd of 800,000 that attended this year’s parade.

The new route will begin at the intersection of Broadway and Montrose Avenue in the Uptown neighborhood, 0.75 miles from the north end of the Halsted Street Boystown strip, organizers said. The parade will continue southeast on Broadway to Halsted Street, and head south down the Boystown strip to Belmont Avenue.

Then the parade will head east for two blocks on Belmont and return to Broadway, where it will resume its longtime route and head south on Broadway and east on Diversey Parkway to Cannon Drive.

The change eliminates one half-mile stretch of Broadway, between Grace Street and Belmont Avenue, from the route. On its Facebook page, Pie Hole Pizza Joint, at 3477 N. Broadway, said this change is bad news for many businesses in the area.

“The Pride Parade reroute completely cuts out Boystown’s Broadway corridor between Grace and Belmont,” Pie Hole said on its Facebook page. “Nearly 100 businesses are shut out of what they have supported and relied on for years as a much needed summer boost in revenue.”

In a comment on the Boystown Facebook page, Pie Hole said the businesses on Broadway would lose traffic and revenue with the parade no longer traveling right past them, and asked people to “consider how our community businesses who welcome queer folk and make this community vibrant will suffer.”

The stretch of Broadway that is being eliminated from the route is not lined with bars and a busy nightlife scene like Halsted Street just to the west. But huge crowds have traditionally gathered in the parking lot of the Treasure Island grocery store at 3460 N. Broadway, at the mouth of several east-west cross-streets, and on rooftops, to watch the parade.

Meanwhile, many who left comments on the Boystown Facebook page argued that starting the parade at 10 a.m. rather than noon, as will also happen next year, is not likely to make a difference in reducing public drinking.

“Reduce drinking?” one discussion participant remarked. “So instead of people going to the bars between 2 or 3 p.m., people can start drinking at the bars at noon? Or earlier?”

Wrote another participant: “This will only extend the drinking hours, versus curtailing them. Not to mention the pre-parade parties will start even earlier.”

In addition to the new route and earlier start time, the number of entries will be cut from 250 to 200, which will shorten the time of the parade and allow the streets to reopen sooner, organizers said.

At this year’s parade back on June 27, the crowd swelled to the point that police had to stop the parade briefly so that a swarm of people could cross Halsted Street at Belmont Avenue and reduce congestion.

When the parade resumed, about 40 participants had to be diverted south on Clark Street at the intersection with Halsted Street and Barry Avenue, and did not get to appear in the parade at all.

Farther north, the crowds reportedly swelled to the point of danger. The Windy City Times reported after the parade this year that many people had to get out from behind barricades because due to lack of space, and some packed spectators scaled an eight-foot chain link fence among Halsted Street.

Fighting was also reported at Belmont Avenue and Halsted Street, and the Windy City Times showed a photograph of a damaged car with a shattered windshield that reportedly had been danced on by parade spectators on Belmont.

Immediately after the parade, organizer Rich Pfeiffer told the Windy City Times that alternate routes might have to be discussed.

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