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Lakeside Pride proudly marching in the Parade since 1997 

Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles brings about 25 years of experience to the Chicago Pride Parade as Chicago’s premier family of performance groups for members and friends of the LGBTQ+ community. Home to four major ensembles – Jazz Orchestra, Marching Band, Symphonic Band, and Pops Ensemble – plus over a dozen chamber ensembles, the organization offers a diverse musical experience for both its audience and its members.

On Sunday, June 30, Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles will continue with its current theme, Nature and songs about nature that relate to the LGBTQ+ community, such as:

  • Flowers, from Miley Cyrus;
  • Rain On Me from Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande; and
  • Ain’t No Mountain High Enough from Marvin Gaye.

About 125 members of Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles are expected to march – and perform – in this year’s Chicago Pride Parade, dressed as always in their colorful attire.

“It’s always entertaining in the parade. We bring energy and excitement every year,” said Lakeside’s Stephen Carey, artistic director of the marching band.

Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles has been a part of the Chicago Pride Parade since 1997. Lakeside Pride provides a forum for adult musicians, inclusive of any background, ethnicity, gender identification or sexual orientation, to represent the LGBTQ+ community and express themselves through music.

Lakeside Pride is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All ensemble members, conductors and the board of directors are volunteers, sharing their time, talent, and love of music. 

Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles is an inductee into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame and a founding member of the Pride Bands Alliance.

Lakeside Pride will, on June 30th, continue its long-standing tradition of ending its long list with We Are Family from Sister Sledge, the group’s theme.

We want to show that we’re stronger than anything out there… and as a community we’re bigger and better than all of that, and we’re there for each other.

Stephen Carey

With about 1 million fans cheering the Chicago Pride Parade, Carey said it naturally is “exciting” to perform for the whole route. “It’s exhausting to march the whole route, being on your feet playing music, but our members draw energy from the crowd,” he said. “You definitely can feel the energy from the crowd.”

Lakeside Pride started practicing its Pride Parade songs in mid-April, with two-hour practice sessions on the weekends.

Lakeside Pride will also be performing June 2nd in Buffalo Grove’s 6th-annual family-friendly Pride Parade in the northwest suburb.

Lakeside Pride features a member in his late-70s on down to an 11-year-old drum major in her third Pride Parade who has been aligned with the group since she was 6. “She would pick up a tree branch, pretend she was a drum major and march behind the band,” Carey said.

Two of the group’s five founding members still march with the group, he said.

For more information, visit

The 53rd annual Chicago Pride Parade starts at 11 a.m., Sunday, June 30th 2024 in Chicago’s landmark LGBTQ+ neighborhood of Lakeview. For more information, visit

Feature article written by Ross Forman

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