Aurora could be home to 3-day pride festival next year

The success of Aurora's inaugural gay pride parade last month has convinced organizers to try something even bigger next year: a three-day Aurora Pride Festival that would include a 5K race, art exhibition and poetry slam along with a speaker series, small-venue performances and an even bigger parade.

Chuck Adams, the executive director of Indivisible Aurora and the driving force behind this year's parade, said organizers always hoped to turn the event into a weekend-long celebration, but first wanted to prove that a family friendly parade could be a success in the Western suburbs.

“We thought maybe we should be a little less ambitious and nail the parade part of it first” before pitching the idea of a three-day fest, he said.

With their success, organizers now have submitted a letter to the city asking to hold a parade again on Sunday, June 9, 2019, and to include the other activities on the Friday and Saturday leading up to it.

The proposal still must be approved by the city council, but Mayor Richard Irvin already has endorsed it.

The parade, Irvin said in a written statement, brought “new levels of unity, energy and pride to Aurora. It was well organized, fun and family-friendly. All along the parade route, I spoke with people — some with tears in their eyes — who repeatedly thanked us for being the host city.”

Adams said organizers were confident in their ability to pull off the inaugural parade, but even they were surprised by how most of the community embraced the idea.

“The explosion of love and acceptance was really very personal and emotional,” he said Monday. “It's the unity and vibe of love and positive outpouring of acceptance that we hope to expand on.”

If they get council approval, Adams said the key change next year will be a kickoff event on Friday evening where organizers will talk about the agenda for the weekend, introduce the parade Grand Marshal and have a keynote speaker serve as a “primer to get everything going.”

The parade would serve as the grand finale on Sunday.

As with this year's parade, he said, the event would maintain a family-friendly air.

“This isn't Chicago,” Adams said of Aurora. “It doesn't have Chicago's brash.”

Adams says he was encouraged by the number of youngsters he saw waving rainbow flags at the parade and by the participation of 11 churches and a synagogue. Organizers are hoping to get sponsors for many of next year's events to provide both money and volunteers for some of the events.

Not everyone embraced the parade, Adams says, but the vast majority of the feedback his team received was positive.

“We really embraced the community,” he said, “in a way it hasn't been done before.”

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