Pride festivities kick off in Chicago amid heightened security concerns

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CHICAGO -- Thousands in Chicago are celebrating pride this weekend amid increased security concerns.

There are a number of events in lake view and around the city.  One of the biggest is at Navy Pier, where there’s a full slate of activities and entertainment all day – as the pier celebrates pride for the first time.

Navy Pier’s famous centennial Ferris wheel was decorated with the rainbow – signaling the movement of the pride festival to the mainstream.

Governor Bruce Rauner kicked off a day of activities on the “People’s Pier” that included a parade with the Lakeside Pride Music Ensemble.

“Today is a special day – this is the first celebration of pride outside of the Lakeview neighborhood,” Rauner said.

There were also performances from Chicago artists and actors. But this year’s pride celebration is somewhat tempered by the horrific massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando two weeks ago.

“It’s particularly important that we raise the profile, stand with the LGBT community is light of what happened in Orlando,” Rauner said.

Said Jen Kramer, director of special events at Navy Pier, “We felt it was time to take a stand and invite that community – and all communities of Chicago – in a way they’ve never been invited before.”

With heightened security concerns around pride events, the governor has directed the state police to provide extra resources to Chicago this weekend.

“Our Illinois State Police – I’ve asked them to increase their level of involvement in their activity and their support of the Chicago Police Department,” Rauner said.

Meanwhile in Lakeview preparations are underway for tomorrow’s pride parade, where huge crowds are expected. Chicago police are adding hundreds of officers, and parade organizers say they’re bringing in more private security guards.

Today, there was a pride run, and calls for more steps in the long road to equality.

At Navy Pier tonight at 10:15, there will be a moment of silence for the 49 victims in the Orlando massacre. The night will be capped off with disco themed fireworks.

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