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Chicago to rein in gay pride to reduce public drinking, accomodate crowds

Chicago to rein in gay pride to reduce public drinking, accomodate crowds

CHICAGO — The city of Chicago announced it will change the route, start time and even the size of its annual Gay Pride Parade as a means to curb public drinking and accommodate the increasing attendance of the event.

Alderman Tom Tunney told the Chicago Sun-Times the parade remains a celebration of the community’s history and rights, but that it has outgrown its size, and that he wants to keep it safe.

“There’s people concerned about alcohol being consumed on that day,” said Tunney, the city’s first openly gay Alderman. “Complaints are that people actually bring their coolers and consume a lot. An earlier start time will promote less drinking.”

The changes are the most significant to the parade in many years, said Rich Pfeiffer, chief organizer of the event.

“You weigh the pros and cons… and the bottom line was safety,” said Pfeiffer. “We just did not want a repeat of last year.”

A near doubling of attendance at the parade in June presented greater challenges for parade officials. At the 2011 Parade, crowds were so large and out of control that many parade-goers said they feared for their safety. Last year’s parade saw a turnout of approximately 800,000 people, compared with an estimated 450,000 in 2010.

Some have attributed increased attendance this year to media attention centering on LGBT people leading up to the parade, as the Illinois Civil Unions law went into effect earlier that same month.

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