Evanston Hosts Pride Community Picnic July 30th Weekend

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Organizers estimated that hundreds of people attended the Pride in Evanston Community Picnic on July 30 at Ridgeville Park.

The Evanston Pride Picnic on Saturday at noon included games, crafts, a voter registration table, sponsor and community tables and booths, a knitting circle and entertainment.

People could buy tickets or bring their own picnics. Many families had blankets spread out on the lawn in the shade. Children played with bubble machines and could fly little rainbow kites.

The weather was “superb”, said Aim Larrabee of Evanston, the parent of 20-month-old Maude Larrabee and 3-year-old Margaret Larrabee.

It was sunny and 78 degrees on Ridge Avenue for a setting of community camaraderie.

“I hope people will come together and realize that we have more of a community here than we realize,” Larrabee said of Evanston’s LGBTQIA+ presence. “There is a huge need for mental health services for young people and for those children who receive a lot of mixed messages about their place in the world to feel that their community supports them.

Rada Yovovich of Uptown, a founding board member of Evanston Pride, serves as the organization’s secretary and board member. Yovovich, owner of an Evanston equity advisory business, grew up in Evanston and is part of the class of 2002 at Evanston Township High School.

The Evanston Pride organization launched in November 2020 and achieved 501c3 status in early 2021, Yovovich said.

“It’s a wonderful community and specifically, the people who come forward for the LGBTQIA+ people in our lives are really like a wonderful cross section of Evanston,” Yovovich said. “And it was such a pleasure. People are nice, people are friendly, people are generous.

They say the city has always been progressive in some ways, but not organized or resourced.

Yovovich added. “So the fact that we’re the first LGBTQIA+ nonprofit in Evanston is pretty mind-blowing to a lot of people.”

But, “Evanston is a very community-oriented place,” Yovovich said. “We show up for each other.”

Lakeside Pride’s Tiny Bubbles Ukulele Ensemble performed at noon on the lawn playing fan gallery favorites that people of all ages could sing along to.

Steven Kellert of Andersonville, also known as “Head Bubble” and band leader, said the Lakeside Pride band likes to play ukuleles, “for exposure, and just to be part of the community and to share music.

“I mean,” Kellert said, “it’s kind of a hokie and it’s usually said that music is the universal language, but like, you don’t have to know the lyrics to the songs, like we joke at this subject.”

“Just come for the sound, just come for the fun, come for the silliness, come for the bubbles, come for the offbeat music,” Kellerts said, encouraging music lovers.

A popular community table attracted people of all ages to make floral headbands, including 4-year-old Tessa Bozeday, a preschooler.

Tessa’s parents, Matt and Lindsay Bozeday, were present. Matt Bozeday performed with Lakeside Pride’s Tiny Bubbles Ukulele Ensemble.

“We talk about how we like everyone to love whoever they want and accept everyone for who they are,” Lindsay Bozeday said of what the family teaches and instills in Tessa.

Saleswoman Hannah Williams of Evanston helped customer Ximena Mercado of Evanston with jewelry and other handcrafted wearable art.

“I appreciate that they (the organizers) have me here,” said Williams, who uses the pronouns they.

Williams’ handmade items included decorated cell phone covers and colorful buttons, some featuring personal choices for pronouns such as they/them and she/her.

“I feel like representation is very important,” said Mercado, who was looking to connect with the local Pride community. “The merchandise of Williams and other artists, ‘makes you feel like you belong here.’ ”

“I just found out about this event online,” Mercado added. “It was great to discover Evanston Pride.”

Learn more about Evanston Pride at https://www.evanstonpride.org.

Karie Angell Luc is a freelance journalist for Pioneer Press.

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