PRIDE Parade

The Chicago Pride Parade started in 1970 and, truth be told, it was less of a parade than a march, with fewer than 200 participants. My, how we have grown since then! The parade, which has since moved to Boystown, now draws in hundreds of thousands of avid supporters and participants. The event has drawn such huge crowds that this year, it's been extended to two weekends, with the festival taking place June 22-23 and the parade on June 30. This is a gay-day celebration you won't want to miss.

Friday, June 21 - The Pregame

Get some sleep and take your multivitamins, because, baby, you'll need it. Friday night, there are all kinds of events to tickle your fancy, including the Sidetrack kick-off party from 6:30-9 and SPIN's oh-so-sultry shower contest at 10.

Saturday, June 22 - A Day at the Festival

PRIDE Festival

When you rise, start with the best way to kick off a day at the Pride Festival is with the meal that we have turned into an event - brunch. Never fear, the businesses of Boystown are happy to make sure your Pride-ful brunch is a memorable one, with almost every food-serving establishment in the area offering a special. My favorites are Taverna 750 and Jack's on Halsted.

Then, friends, take to the streets for the festivities in the sunshine (wear sunscreen, please. I, a redhead, made that faithful mistake in 2008 and am still scarred). The events for the day are numerous with highlights including performances by Aubrey O'Day, Blu Cantrell, The Chicago Gay Men's Chorus (showtune alert!), and the Windy City Cowboys (i.e. boys in chaps. YEEHAW!).

Sunday, June 23 - ANOTHER Day at the Festival

PRIDE Festival

Don't stay at Berlin too long, because you must be in tip-top shape for that glorious day of days - SUNDAY FUNDAY. Yes, you thought Sunday Funday was crazy before? Try it with 400,000 of your closest friends. Fuel up at Melrose Diner or Halsted's and then take to the streets that you, by now, own. Don't miss performances by Deborah Cox, Janice Robinson and Tameka Star, and local superstars 16 Candles (they're an 80s cover band-seriously, just say goodbye to your vocal chords). Check out local drag icon Miss Foozie's Pet Parade too.

Monday, June 24 - The Fun Continues

Now, it's Monday and you thought it was over? Don't be silly. Call in to work, tell your hotel to not even think about renting out your room, and get ready for a day of rollercoasters and adventures at Six Flags. The day starts with breakfast at Hydrate and then shuttle service to the park. Order tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/401142.

Tuesday, June 25 - You're on a Boat

Take Tuesday off-you deserve it, but you better be back in shape on Wednesday. The Big Gay Cocktail Club is hosting a boat cruise with fireworks from 7PM-10PM. Get your tickets for that here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/403951

Thursday, June 27 & Friday June 28 - The Pary Doesn't Stop

PRIDE Festival

On Thursday and Friday, branch out from the Halsted strip by hitting up some of the city's many other gay-friendly bars. Try Hamburger Mary's, Sofo Tap, or Big Chicks in Andersonville, Crew in Uptown, or The Glenwood, Sidecar and The Jackhammer in Rogers Park.

Saturday, June 29 & Sunday, June 30 - The 44th Annual PRIDE Parade

PRIDE Parade

There is a Proud To Run 10k/5k on Saturday, June 29 while things heat up for the big parade on Sunday, June 30. The parade, with close to 200 float entries will be extravagant to say the least, and it will be the perfect way to cap off your week. Between the local businesses, religious communities, clubs, and politicians who express their support and the community that has banded together for the acceptance of all, it's impossible to leave the week without overflowing with PRIDE.

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