On Saturday, July 20, people with disabilities and their allies lined up at Plymouth and Van Buren near the Harold Washington Library for the 10th Annual Disability Pride Parade – “Disability Pride: 10 Years Strong and Growing Stronger.” Nine years ago, Access Living’s former Program Director Sarah Triano and a handful of others made a commitment to give Chicago a taste of disability culture, disability community, and disability pride. They organized Chicago’s first Disability Pride Parade. Leaders of the first parade expected several hundred participants. But on July 18, 2004, at least 1500 hundred people stepped off for the first ever Disability Pride Parade in Chicago.
Front of the 2013 Disability Pride Parade. Grand Marshal Karen Meyer is behind banner wearing red
Every year since 2004, the Disability Pride Parade has attracted new people from all over the country and from outside of the country to celebrate their status as people with disabilities and their support of people with disabilities. This year, a huge contingent from Canada marched in the parade.
Pride is contagious. The Chicago parade has inspired events in Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, Colorado Springs, and New Jersey, Norway, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Sarah Traino, moved to California and launched a parade in Silicon Valley.
The 2013 Grand Marshal was ABC 7’s Karen Meyer. For years, as a feature reporter with ABC, Meyer has given voice to people with disabilities and raised awareness around issues critical to the success of the community. Meyer also teaches disability at Depaul University and sat on the original Access Living Board of Directors. Meyer joined a list of distinguished Grand Marshals, including Yoshiko Dart, Amber Smock, Robert David Hall, Kathy Martinez, and Tony Coehlo.
The parade started at the Library then moved up Dearborn Street to Daley Plaza, where there was a post-parade celebration that included musical performances, dance performances, speeches, proclamations, and information tables. Performers included the Eden Band, Collective Sole, Robbi Style, Vaughn Demeanor, Praetorium Sign Language Community Church Choir and Momenta Dance Company.
Just like every other year, Access Living showed its pride in the parade, with a float and a huge contingent.