Chicago Ald. Maria Hadden (49th Ward) spoke with Windy City Times about a recent controversy that involved fees regarding Pride North.
On June 26 (Saturday), the $20 fee was listed as a suggested donation. However, the following day, at least one sign designated the fee as mandatory, causing some to leave the event. Hadden herself was contacted by some residents, resulting in her communicating with event president Colm Treacy, in person and via text. (The specifics and Treacy's remarks are at windycitytimes.com/lgbt/Pride-North-controversy-erupts-over-fee-events-owner-responds-91UPDATE93/70821.html .
"These festivals, especially in the time period that we're in, [are] some people's first experiences getting back into community," Hadden told Windy City Times on July 12. "I think they hold a little more significance than in previous summers and that's maybe why some folks in the community had such a negative reaction. Some people felt they were taken advantage of.
"Earlier that day, I was getting calls from people asking, 'They can't do that, can they?' I was thinking, 'Maybe some people just aren't comfortable with the idea of a suggested donation. Let me make sure things are clear.' But after that first engagement and having so many more people reach out, it almost seemed like some intentional misinformation or deception of some folks who are just trying to have a good time. It just ruins the party for everyone."
Hadden also clarified the rules regarding street festivals and the request for donations, suggested and otherwise: "It's about the type of permit. [Events] in the public way grant you certain privileges. There are permits you can apply and pay for that go through similar approval processes, but they cost more money; they allow people to close down the public way and restrict access. [Organizers of] 99 percent of street festivals don't apply for those permits because they're costly and people are not trying to exclude others.
"Festivals cost money and there's nothing wrong with people asking for donations. However, the permits don't allow you to completely exclude people and require a fee."
Hadden also said that most of what Treacy has said to Windy City Times and other media outlets are "misquotes or embellishments." She added, "We've had previous challenges with this particular business owner before with different issues, especially during the pandemic and his use of the public way. He's had challenges getting permits approvednot through my office, but with CDOT [the Chicago Department of Transportation] and the police department regarding outdoor dining. [Treacy owns the Rogers Park bar The Glenwood, and has owned or co-owned other establishments, including T's Bar, in Andersonville.]
"I try not to let bad experiences get in the way of working with others, but I will say that I'm still the alderperson and we still have city rules and guidelines."
Treacy had told Windy City Times he had hoped to have another Pride North the first weekend of October, when Pride Fest and the Pride Parade are slated to take place. Regarding that, Hadden said, "If he's planning on doing another Pride event in October, his lack of responsiveness this time has really jeopardizedin a really high-profile waythe likelihood of getting approval from [various] departments in the future. He's got a higher proof of burden.
"Also, several residents have reached out and said they want to organize a different Pride North. Festivals here [in the 49th Ward] are independently organized. No one owns Pride. If we end up with multiple Pride festivals, that's fantastic."