Y Employees at Pride Parade
Jun 20, 2024

All In on Employee and Community Engagement

Summer 2023 was a time of celebration and pride at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago.  Not only did we join the Bud Billiken Parade for the second year in a row, but the Y also participated in the Chicago Pride Parade for the first time ever!  

We kicked off the season in June with more than 100 Y community members by traveling through the Northalsted, Lakeview, Uptown and Lincoln Park neighborhoods as part of the 52nd Annual Chicago Pride Parade. Along the route, we passed out Y swag, including YMCA-branded mini-basketballs and fans to beat the heat! Plus, to celebrate Pride Month, we released limited-edition YMCA Pride merch worn by our Y friends and family during the parade.  

“As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and a Y employee for 18 years, I was grateful to take part in the Chicago Pride Parade and march with my fellow Y team members,” said Danielle Carey, Manager – Interviewing, Talent Acquisition, at the Y. “It was an incredibly inspiring celebration of strength, resiliency, and love with our communities and allies. Through my engagement with the Y’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, I'm hopeful that we can create a more inclusive and compassionate community for those we work with and serve.”  

Although the Chicago Pride Parade was hit with rain showers, hundreds of thousands came out to show support for the LGBTQ+ community at the largest Pride event in the Midwest region and one of the most well-known commemorations of LGBTQ+ history and pride in the United States. The YMCA of Metro Chicago was incredibly proud to be a part of this event, showcasing our commitment to connecting all people — including our family, friends, and neighbors in the LGBTQ+ community — to their purpose, potential, and each other.   

The Y carried our joyful energy through a wonderful summer of camps, new community partnerships, and so much more. Then in August, we kicked off the back-to-school season by celebrating Black excellence at the 94th Annual Bud Billiken Parade!  

We had a fantastic time participating in the largest African American parade in the country, joined by our partners from Wilson and Target. As we traveled down the parade route, our Y community members, wearing limited-edition Bud Billiken Parade YMCA t-shirts, handed out slap bracelets, mini basketballs, and delicious treats.    

The Y also hosted a booth at the post-parade festival in Washington Park, where we connected with our community and shared swag, sports drinks (it was a hot one that day!), and information about the South Side YMCA’s programs and fall events.   

“It’s always such a pleasure to be surrounded by members of our community as we celebrate education, joy, and health and wellbeing at ‘the Bud,’” said Jarquetta Egeston, Executive Director of the South Side YMCA. “Bud Billiken is an event and partnership that our staff, members, and communities treasure, and we look forward to participating again for many years to come!”  

Here at the Y, we are so grateful to have had a sunny (metaphorically and literally!) summer of celebration. Together, we expressed our dedication to improving all communities, showcasing our commitment to inspiring change through the Power of Play, while bringing joy to those around us!