Cost concerns scuttle Aurora's gay pride festival, parade

 
 
Updated 4/12/2019 5:05 PM
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  • Jim Corti, artistic director of the Paramount Theatre, led the Aurora Pride Parade last year.

    Jim Corti, artistic director of the Paramount Theatre, led the Aurora Pride Parade last year. Daily Herald file photo

  • In 2018, Aurora became the first Illinois city outside of Chicago to host a gay pride parade. The group Indivisible Aurora has canceled this year's parade because of a surge in costs.

    In 2018, Aurora became the first Illinois city outside of Chicago to host a gay pride parade. The group Indivisible Aurora has canceled this year's parade because of a surge in costs. Courtesy of Indivisible Aurora

Indivisible Aurora has canceled the Aurora Pride Festival, saying it can't afford it because the city has increased charges for services, such as police protection, on short notice.

Costs for the parade alone were going to be four times last year's, according to a news release from the private organization. It said it learned of the increased cost in early April, just 66 days before the scheduled event. It had been working with city officials on planning since last year.

Without the parade, organizers believe attendance would have decreased at other planned events, including a 5K run and a marketplace.

The two-day festival was scheduled for June 8-9.

While Indivisible Aurora anticipated a higher cost for this year's parade, "we never imagined, nor was it ever suggested, that it would be four times," the group said in the release.

The group and city officials had looked for ways to reduce the budget and the cost of services, the organization and the mayor's office said.

In January, the city council decided to charge special events (other than those sponsored by the city) for the cost of all city services and personnel, such as police, firefighters, paramedics and streets department workers, that it deems the festival needs.

In a prepared statement on Friday, Mayor Richard Irvin said the city had found a grant to help pay for the event and Indivisible Aurora needed only another $10,000 to pay for the city services. The city was willing to take payment in installments spread over the rest of the year, he said.

"With just about two months until the scheduled weekend, our hope is Indivisible Aurora will receive the necessary monetary support it needs. We have seen what happens when a community comes together for a worthy cause. A money gap of less than $10,000 shouldn't stop the momentum gained in a community filled with passion and pride," Irvin said.

Chuck Adams, director of Indivisible Aurora, disputed the $10,000 figure but said his group would not elaborate until a meeting, open to the public, scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at 1 E. Benton St.

Aurora had the suburbs' first gay pride parade last year, and Indivisible Aurora estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people attended.

The organization's directors decided it could not stage the kind of festival that would make Aurora and the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/questioning communities proud, according to its release.

The news release said last year's event inspired activists in Buffalo Grove, Naperville, Bolingbrook, Mokena, Joliet and Muncie, Indiana, to advocate for equality in those communities.

Sponsors, donors and participants can visit aurorapride.org for refunds.

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