'It's a long time coming;' Buffalo Grove embraces first Pride Parade
Waves of marchers hoisting rainbow-colored flags, carrying balloons and sporting shirts with LGBTQ-friendly messages washed over Buffalo Grove's Checker Drive on Sunday as the village hosted its first Pride Parade.
They were greeted by a cheering crowd of supporters from the suburbs and beyond, many wearing shirts bearing the phrase "Free hugs."
At the center of activity was the family that made it possible -- Buffalo Grove residents Carolyn and Bob Pinta and their daughter, Molly.
"When we showed up at 6 (a.m.), our biggest fear was it would be empty, and it is anything but empty," Bob Pinta said. "It is wonderful and overwhelming, and I have cried three times."
"I feel over the moon," Carolyn Pinta added
Wearing a rainbow tie-dyed shirt with streaks of rainbow in her hair, Molly called the turnout "really amazing."
"When it started, we never thought that it would get as big as it has," she said.
Prominent among the groups marching were local religious organizations, including Temple Chai in Long Grove and Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Arlington Heights.
"We believe passionately that we're all created in God's image. By celebrating our diversity, we honor the true image of God," Temple Chai Rabbi Ilana Baden said.
A number of Temple Chai congregants wore shirts proclaiming, "Everyone is welcome here."
"It's not just something that we wear, it's something that we believe. It's something that we practice," said Kildeer resident and congregation member Linda Brubaker.
Lyndsey Menning of Palatine marched with the Arlington Heights church, along with 11-year-old daughter Sydney, her brother, Milwaukee resident Joe Baker, and Baker's partner, Rainer Wolter.
Baker said much progress has been made, particularly over the past five years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in support of same-sex marriage. But he said there is unfinished business, including civil rights protections.
"There is huge work that still needs to be done, particularly for low-income communities of color within the LGBTQ community. But hopefully events like this will continue to raise visibility," he said.
Sydney, noting that someone of about her age helped organize the parade, said, "You're never too young to make a difference."
Area political figures showed up, among them state Rep. Daniel Didech of Buffalo Grove.
"Especially when we see all of the anti-LGBT policies coming out of Washington D.C. right now, making it harder for families to adopt, not allowing (transgender) people to serve in the military, making it harder for children of LGBT couples to get citizenship, I think it's more important than ever that we're sending a loud message as clear as we can that that's not our values here," he said.
Along the parade route, several residents opened up their garages and held parties or decorated their driveways.
"It's fabulous. It's a long time coming and I'm very appreciative of the girl who did this," Checker Drive resident Ron Polancich said. "She did a wonderful job of organizing this and it's nice to see the (village) embraced it."