Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our Annual Pride Advice: Enjoy The Days, Avoid The Nights

Hours after the parade ends, police continue to work on containing crowds in Boystown
Four years ago, we published our editors' recommendations for enjoying the Chicago Pride Parade weekend safely. Unfortunately, everything we wrote back then applies equally to this coming weekend. Avoid Belmont. Leave at a relatively early hour. Trust your gut. (Our full list of tips is below.)

We expect a smaller crowd for Sunday's parade, reduced from last' year's crowd which was itself smaller than the year before. There are indications that the city is also scaling back expectations. Police told local CAPS meetings that they expect "maybe 750,000" people along the route. That's still a huge exaggeration of the actual crowd size, but it's also a steep drop from the city's annual "MILLION PEOPLE" announcement.

But we do not expect crime reports and arrests to improve. One indication of what the weekend ahead could have in store?  There were 11 arrests in Boystown during and after last weekend's Pride Fest. Last year's Pride Fest spawned just seven arrests. Under tight security following the Pulse Nightclub shooting, last year's Pride Parade sparked 24 arrests, down sharply from 52 in 2015.

And, on an unrelated matter, should there be any doubt about how the Pride Parade has changed over the years, take a look at how many of this year's parade entries fall into the following categories:
  • Schools - 9
  • Churches - 9
  • Sports teams - 8
  • Banks - 7
  • TV stations - 6
  • Radio stations - 5
  • Defense contractors - 3
  • Gay bars - 3 (Sidetrack, Roscoes, and Queen night at Smart Bar)
Enjoy the weekend. And, as promised, here are our annual suggestions for doing Pride sensibly:


At All Times

Nobody wants to be that guy.
• Stay with the herd. Walk with at least one other person. If possible, tag along with other groups. Muggers and other ne'er-do-wells function just like the cheetahs on Animal Planet. You do not want to be the slowest gazelle.

• Carry as little cash as possible. If you can get by with your ID and one credit card, do it. Leave everything else behind.

• Avoid using your phone on the street. 

• Do not get drunk. Okay, fine, we'll meet you halfway. Do not drink to the point that your level of intoxication is apparent in the way you act. Swervy, stumbly people may as well scream "take my stuff!"

• Do not engage strangers on the street. Keep walking. Do not stop to give someone a cigarette, a light, or a dollar.

• Bail if things start to get sketch.

Police on scene at a shooting near the Belmont L station after the 2014 Pride Parade.

Friday and Saturday

• Leave the area by midnight. If possible, take a taxi, Uber, or Lyft.

• If you take the train, use the Addison L station. Do not use the Belmont station.

• Avoid walking through large groups that are blocking the sidewalk. Go as far around as possible.

• Belmont Avenue is a NO GO ZONE between 11:00pm and 6:00am both nights. Stay at least a block away from it, no matter how many people are with you.

Sunday

• Enjoy the parade. Leave the area by 8:30pm

• On Sunday, Belmont Avenue is a NO GO ZONE after 8:30pm. Stay at least a block away from it, no matter how many people are with you.

• If you take the train, use the Addison L station. Do not use the Belmont station.


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