Bands. Flags. Floats as big as Texas. Parades are major fun, and in Chicago we have them on many more occasions than the Fourth of July. This summer, grab a curbside perch and see everything from a pet parade to a “veggie pride” procession. Read on for the scoop.
photo: WOOGMS Parade by mister scantastic via Flickr
This theme of this grassroots event is “Everybody marches, nobody watches!” — and they mean it! Put on your walking shoes and celebrate the Lakeview neighborhood. More than 50 years ago, resident Al Weisman formed WOOGMS (Wellington Oakdale Old Glory Marching Society) to celebrate freedom and remember those who served our nation. The Jesse White Drum Corps leads the parade and every year the number of marchers grows.
Monday, May 26, 10 a.m. (lineup), 11 a.m. (start)
Pine Grove & Wellington aveues
Veggie Pride Parade
No, you won’t see broccoli, carrots and beets parading through Grant Park, but you will see plenty of people who love them (and maybe a few who dress in veggie costumes). This annual event celebrates vegetarian and vegan lifestyles with a parade and festival with music, food and a costume contest for adults, kids and pets. The kids’ area has veggie-inspired arts and crafts, face painting and more.
Saturday, May 31, noon
photo: courtesy of La Grange Pet Parade
La Grange Pet Parade
Grab your dog, cat, bird or even fish and strut your stuff in the western suburbs. This furry, festive parade has been going on for 68 years and is a true community highlight. It’s no wonder: There’s nothing cuter than kids and pets, plus marching bands, floats and clowns. This year, the parade has its first-ever “pet marshal” — a yellow lab service dog named Bode.
Saturday, May 31, 9:30-11 a.m.
Cossitt Avenue & La Grange Road
45th Annual Chicago Pride Parade
Families come in every shape, size and color of the rainbow. June is Pride Month and a great time to celebrate diversity and the LGBTQ community at this annual parade. Some 200 performance groups and entrants — including many Chicago schools — pass by on floats, in decorated vehicles and on foot. It’s widely known that the parade can get pretty boisterous and some costumes (or lack of them) may be outside the comfort zone of some parents. Still, kids love parades, and this is an amazing one, with energy and exuberance that will stay with you long after the last float has passed.
Sunday, June 29, noon
Montrose Avenue & Broadway Street; ends at Diversey Parkway & Sheridan Road
Uptown & Lakeview
photo: courtesy of Bud Billiken Parade
Bud Billiken Parade
The Bud Billiken Parade is the kickoff to the back-to-school season for Chicago students. Robert S. Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender newspaper, started the parade and named it after Billiken, the guardian angel of all children according to Chinese legend. It features floats, bands, drill and dance teams, food and music.
Saturday, August 9, 10 a.m.
King Drive, from Oakwood to Garfield boulevards
With Andean music leading the way, the Ecuadorean Parade brings a festive celebration to Albany Park. Look for traditional costumes, dancing by folk groups and horses — all in the name of celebrating the country’s independence.
Sunday, August 10, noon
Montrose Avenue, from California to Kimball avenues
photo: India Independence Day Parade by Charles Carper via Flickr
India Independence Day Parade
Dreaming of a day trip to New Delhi? Then head to West Rogers Park for the next best thing: a celebration of India’s independence with a fun parade. With music, dancing and festooned floats, this parade is a feast for the eyes. Stick around because the neighborhood hosts an actual feast: We love a trip to Patel’s Café for a slushy, cool Chowpatty-style gola (a fresh, slushy drink).
Saturday, August 16, 11:30 a.m.
Devon Street, from Western to California avenues
Do you have a favorite local parade? Let us know about it in the Comments!
— Jen Peterson, with additional reporting by Maria Barnes