By: Giles Bruce
As she surveyed the colorful crowd on a pristine late-summer Saturday at Naper Settlement, Amy Jackson said, “there’s something really special about something like this happening on the lawn across the street. It’s in your ZIP code. It’s your community. And that’s really beautiful.”
Like thousands of other people from the western suburbs, Jackson, a senior marketing and publicity associate for the inclusive Naperville-based publisher Sourcebooks, was attending the second-annual Naper Pride Fest to show support for the local LGBTQ community.
She and several other attendees commented on how they used to have to travel to downtown Chicago for an event like this. Not anymore.
“Look at (this), everybody’s smiling. It’s a beautiful day. Vendors are smiling. Everybody’s happy,” said Margie Wolf, Naper Pride executive director.
The event is raising funds — and awareness — to one day build an LGBTQ community center in or near Naperville that would have inclusive health services, Wolf said. About 5,000 people were expected to attend the Saturday gathering.
“These are our people. These are our neighbors,” she said. “Naper Pride’s name is everything about who we are. Naper Pride — Naper proud. We live here. We’re not just celebrating the LGBTQ community. We’re celebrating where we live. We love where we live.”
Several musical acts were slated to perform, including R&B singer Jody Watley and Brian Justin Crum of “America’s Got Talent” fame, and among those in attendance were Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville. There were also numerous artists, food vendors and advocacy groups.