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Glenn Miller, Zach Christman
Steve Johnson, the president of Associated Attractions, and General Manager Chuck Huser describe their frantic day trying to get 51 floats ready for the Pride Parade, after vandals flattened tires on every one.
Dozens of floats still made their date with the Pride Parade in Boystown on Sunday, despite having their tires slashed overnight.
It happened at long-time Pride float provider Associated Attractions, at 4834 S. Halsted St., The Windy City Times first reported.
General Manager Chuck Huser said the floats were fine when he left around 8 p.m. Saturday. But when he got in around 5 this morning, 51 floats -- every float at the facility, and all of them destined for Pride -- each had two tires slashed.
"This is catastrophic," Huser told the Times. "This has never happened before, and we have been doing this since 1989."
Huser said he thinks this was designed to sabotage the Pride Parade.
"99 percent of my being thinks it's a hate crime," he said.
Huser and his workers scambled all morning to get the tires fixed by noon, when the parade was scheduled to kick off at Halsted and Belmont. At about 11:30 a.m., he still had 15 floats left to fix. Those included PAWS Chicago, Lambda Legal, Kiss FM, Unity Church, Grab Magazine, Closet Works, and the Chicago Housing Authority.
The president of Associated Attractions, Steve Johnson, said he had to lay out $3,000 cash to get a local tire shop to even try to fix all the tires.
"It's a huge loss for us," he said.
The parade was not delayed because of the crime, although coordinator Richard Pfeiffer told ChicagoPride.com that the order of floats would likely change, as some may need to be dropped to the end of the line. Pfeiffer said some groups may not be able to take part.
"We will not let this stop us," Pfeiffer said.
Hundreds of thousands of people converged on the Boystown neighborhood for the 42nd annual Gay Pride Parade on Sunday.
Parade coordinator Richard Pfeiffer says many participants are celebrating legalized civil unions in Illinois, and gay marriage in New York.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was at the front of the parade, and Gov. Pat Quinn also participated.
Pfeiffer says there were a number of new entries this year, including the Peace Corps, the Chicago Teachers' Union and City Colleges of Chicago.
The parade kicked off at noon and was expected to last roughly 2 hours. But the parade does move slowly due to the huge number of participants and spectators, and can take much longer.
It features 250 entries, including floats, musical groups and walking contingents.