GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — On Saturday, thousands of residents celebrated Johnson County’s first Pride festival in its history.
Organizers were thrilled with the turnout, which exceeded their expectations.
The event was at Craig Park from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.
More than the food, more than the other activities and things for sale, it was a sense of acceptance served at Greenwood’s first Pride Block Party for people like Angel Purlee.
“I love it, I absolutely love it,” Purlee said.
Purlee was proud of her city. She’s been part of the LGBTQ+ community since she was 13.
Saturday’s event is a big change from the environment back then.
“You didn’t talk about it,” she said. “It’s one of the things I love about events like this — to show it’s OK to be who you are, that you don’t have to hide anymore.”
So it only makes sense she had to be here along with her loved ones.
“Two of my daughters are bisexual; my youngest is transgender,” Purlee said. “It’s definitely a family affair.”
But for people like Heather Smith, who organized the event as part of a community group called Pride and Progress, the crowd was about 40% bigger than expected.
“Excitement, definitely emotional,” Smith said. “Being able to create a space for the LGBTQ community in Greenwood is what we planned to do, and I think we did it pretty successfully.”
Plans for a similar event had to be canceled last year because of the pandemic.
Smith said seeing so many people at an inaugural event was a bit overwhelming considering it’s the first Pride event for a city of 60,000 people and growing.
“It doesn’t make sense to me that it’s taken this long to have a Pride,” Smith said. “Our city is large enough and diverse enough that it really makes sense we’d be able to put this on and it would be successful.”
Proceeds from the event benefited Trinity Haven, a shelter for LGBTQ+ youth who are experiencing homelessness in central Indiana.