Marion community celebrates first-ever 'Pride in Action' event
As cities across Iowa and the rest of the country hold their own pride celebrations this month, the city of Marion hosted its first pride event Saturday.
People packed into the Marion Public Library, with several waiting outside the library’s meeting room because of how full it was.
"We didn't know if we were going to find three people or 1,000 people,” Kim Greiner said. "But it was really fun, and we're just grateful that everybody came out."
“Pride in Action” kicked off with a welcome from District 65 State Representative Liz Bennett and organizer Sid Karasek, followed by story time and a dance party with a drag queen.
"It was fantastic to see people out and proud of who they are. It was really heartwarming,” Emily Greiner said.
While many of Saturday’s attendees were kids and families, others were there to show their support.
Among them were members of the group “Free Mom Hugs,” who were there simply to give hugs, high fives or handshakes to anyone who wanted one.
"I hope that everybody realizes that we are all equal, and all anybody really wants is love and acceptance for who they are,” Free Mom Hugs member Tammy Obrine said.
After the dance party and story time wrapped up, several community organizations, including Foundation 2, the Area Substance Abuse Council, Waypoint Services and the Sexual Health Alliance of Linn & Johnson County, held a resource fair to let people know about the services they offer.
Outside the library, “Pride in Action” brought out a few protesters who said they didn’t believe the event was appropriate for children.
“That's what we believe is happening here is the indoctrination of confusion,” Adam Muehlhaus, who drove down from northern Iowa, said.
Marion police said the event was peaceful from all sides and encouraged conversation.
Attendee Alice Pow said she came to the event from Iowa City to talk with any protesters who showed up.
"Give them my message to them, which is that it's never too late to get some perspective and to grow as a person and to be more accepting of people of all different kinds,” Pow said.
Meanwhile, inside the library, many were celebrating the first of what they hope will become an annual event.
"It was really fun!" Emily Greiner said.
"It was really fun!” Kim Greiner added. “And if they have it again, we'll be back."