Imagine working for weeks on the design, construction and execution of your pride parade float (let alone the three I was involved with this year) only to get a call at 6am the morning of the parade to find out vandals had broken into the float company warehouse hours before and slashed 100 tires on 51 floats plus used sledge hammers to damage the metal rims on other floats. It was one of those moments of disbelief and sheer amazement that there is still so much ignorance in the world. It’s a P-A-R-A-D-E, not a bum rush at the White House demanding GAY as the new world dominant religion…although…
Keeping it all in perspective, it really is only a float and a silly parade. To my knowledge, no single person was hurt in this twisted hate crime, which is what truly matters. That being said, the Chicago Police Department needs to reclassify this as a hate crime. This is not mere coincidence or a random act. The Gay Pride parade is the largest in the Midwest and had an estimated attendance of over 500,000 people. Chances are, these spineless vandals knew exactly what they were doing and to whom.
I have to give a major shout out to the straight owner of the float company 90% of us use for our parade extravaganza entries every year, Associated Attractions, Inc. The owner, Chuck Huser went far above and beyond to get as many floats repaired and delivered in time for the parade to start on time. How he managed to find 100+ tires, new rims and the jacks, tools, compressors and hands to replace what amounts to a massive fleet of 18 wheeler flatbeds is beyond comprehension, especially on a Sunday at 6am. But one by one, those floats showed up in the four block long staging area and people banded together helping each other to nail up props, staple signage and fluff wigs. I know that when my second (of three) floats at position number 100 in the lineup was cued to take off into the parade route, there were still floats pulling up to be assembled quickly, toss some go go boys on and plug in some speakers. I did hear that a few floats did not make it and for those groups and organizations, I am so sorry.
Fast forward a couple of city blocks and we take off over the hill to be greeted by the most intense and massive crowds I have witnessed in my 22 years of being in a pride parade. Absolutely jaw dropping to see people at every intersections literally stacked a block and ½ deep. As we rolled on block after block, it just got more and more crazy. Entire parking lots were packed, buildings were bursting at the seams and rooftops and balconies were overflowing with cheering bodies. Even on the “straight” end of the parade route, where it usually thins out a bit, the sidewalks, restaurants and intersections were off the hook. Sunshine and 78 degree weather had something to do with it, but the insanity was like no other year. The best sight had to be protesters protesting the anti-gay protesters that are barricaded in by police every year on the same corner. An amazing site to see mostly straight people holding signs declaring their love and support for the LGBT community and completely overshadowing the hate and vile condemnations of our detractors. I truly had a “moment” with a woman holding a sign saying “I will love whomever you love-that is gods wish and he is never wrong”. Thank you for that. It made my day.
All in all, the parade was a success and all three of my floats made it through in one piece with sound, go go people and float crews safely in the park to disassemble and carry on into the mayhem the rest of the weekend. Thank you to everyone that helped build up what was initially torn down. We gays will not be held back, period. The haters can slash away at our LGBT tires, but we will be right behind them with glitter, glue guns, go go boys and girls to build it back up stronger, louder and better than ever to keep moving forward. No one will rain on our parade.