CHICAGO — Chicago's Pride Parade brought more than one million people to the North Side Sunday, with the city's first openly gay mayor marching at its head.
After the event kicked off as planned Sunday afternoon, severe storms heading into the area forced revelers to seek shelter until organizers and officials decided to halt the parade slightly early.
The parade, expected to be one of the city's largest, started at noon Sunday at Broadway Street and Montrose Avenue, and worked its way south towards Diversey Street and Sheridan Road. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the city's first openly gay mayor, was one of seven grand marshals and the first mayor to ride on a Chicago Pride Parade float.
"I feel really close to the mayor being able to support her she really touches home," attendee Ruben Quiroga said.
Cori Blum brought her nine-year-old daughter Penny to watch the parade, wanting to share the experience with her.
"It means a lot of love and pride in who we are, our family's love we have for each other," Blum said.
About two hours in, things took a turn. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued for Chicago and portions of Cook County after the National Weather Service detected wind gusts of up to 70 mph in a storm system headed towards the city.
Around 2:10 p.m., the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) asked everyone at the parade to seek shelter as the storm rolled into the city. A few minutes later, a downpour sent parade goers scattering to find cover. Then once lightning was spotted in the area around 2:50 p.m., the rest of the parade was cancelled.
Organizers say of the 160 official parade entries, only 39 did not complete the parade, and of those entries only nine were floats.
After the parade was halted, a flood of people immediately filled up public transit stations in the area.