Pride at the PARC, Plainfield Pride’s first Pride event, was a success after overcoming opposition.
Jes McIlvain, executive director of Plainfield Pride, said more than 600 people attended the inaugural event.
“People were coming up to our booth and members of the team crying and thanking us for this,” she said. “Thanking us for not backing down and advocating for our community. It was really beautiful.”
Like many other suburban Pride events, there was opposition to a drag queen story hour during the festival. There were some protestors during the festival itself, but it didn’t stop the celebration.
In addition to the story hour, which had an additional hour added by crowd request, there were also vendors, music and speakers. Along with U.S. Reps. Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville) and Bill Foster (D-Naperville), State Sen. Meg Cappel (D-Plainfield), UpRising Bakery & Cafe owner Corinna Bendel-Sac spoke to the crowd. The hate crime against her bakery was one of the first events to really bring a light to the rise in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in Illinois this year.
McIlvain said that one of the great things about the event was people feeling safe and seen. They had a chance to enjoy Pride without having to travel to Chicago or other suburbs, with many youth and parents telling organizers how much the festival was needed.
“We have a lot of new members to the group, followers and volunteers for future events,” she said. “It was so nice to see it come together! Some of the elected officials came including some of the park commissioners.”
Plans have already started for next year’s event, with the first step being finding a location.
“So much good happened,” McIlvain said. “So many smiling faces! I’m really proud of our team and all we did in the face of adversity. We are hopeful to have another pride fest bigger and better as we learned a lot this year.”