Aurora, Illinois celebrated a second year of Pride festivities on June 13. In 2018 and 2019, Aurora Pride took placeheld in the second most populated city in the state of Illinoisbefore it was put on hold in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year the event was conceived as a drive-around celebration, again due to COVID restrictions. The 2021 Aurora Pride Drive Google map led people to various stops around the town. Locals could even add their homes to the route to win a prize for best decor.
As restrictions lessened, much of the action took place at 65 Water St. in Aurora. All day, Chicago Pride Guard performances had fans lounging in the grass to watch. A nearby merchandise table allowed some to purchase T-shirts and memorabilia, plus have an opportunity to drop off canned goods for the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry right at the tent. Greater Family Health gave out information about their services, with rapid HIV testing available at the booth. Also, Mayor Richard Irvin stopped by to greet the crowd and check out the festivities.
Many businesses in downtown Aurora showed up in solidarity with a strong presence, such as Do or Die Designs, Sergio Furniture and Mutual Ground, among others.
Several churches welcomed possible new LGBTQIA+ followers with decorations; participants included Wesley United Methodist Church, St. Mark's Lutheran Church and Faith Lutheran Church.
The Paramount Theatre presented a stage with drag queens Ari Gato and Bella DeBalle as hosts. Locals could compete for tickets to upcoming shows in a shaded area across the street from the iconic performance space.
There were more than 20 decorated homes, creating a Pride treasure hunt where supporters could drive and explore decorations all around Aurora.
This made things a bit scattered and spread out, leaving a lot of room to grow in the future. Water Street Square seems ready for a planned out Pride festival with more entertainment and a return to the format of previous parades next year. To make that happen, donations are currently being accepted at AuroraPride.org; interested persons can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to become sponsors.