POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - On Saturday morning, the Pocatello community showed out at the first Reading Time with the Queens in the wake of recent petitions.
Cold and snow couldn’t keep more than 100 from gathering at the Marshall Public Library for the largest reading time yet.
"We’ve never had a double session before," Cali Je, the program founder, said. "We decided to do a double session because there were twice as many kids as we could have let in."
The conference room at the library was at max occupancy for both sessions, even after people were sent away.
As people came into the building, they received a special welcome.
"The Parasol Patrol are a bunch of really, really, nice people," Je said. "And I’m happy that they are committed to doing just exactly that - standing outside, having big colors, just escorting kids into a great time so that they don’t have to worry about any distractions."
Once the families were packed into the room, it was a good time for all, with monster and love themed books and songs. For an event of the size, Cali, whose legal name is Joseph Crupper, needed some volunteers. Among them was Miss Bonneville County 2020, Ayriss Torres.
"I noticed that it was kind of getting some grief in the community, especially from other people and I thought, well, since I’m a veteran, I’m also a queen, you know, I can do and be whatever I want and I think it’s really important to show children the same thing," she said.
Torres, who was born and raised in Pocatello, helped pass out flyers and stayed after to clean up. She said she hopes she can continue to be part of the event.
"It’s amazing to still be a part of this community, even if I’m not specifically a queen, I’m still a queen in my own way and I think that that's really awesome to be able to show other people," Torres explained.
"I think that our turnout shows that the community is behind not only this event but the concepts of love, community building, general acceptance of each other, tolerance, just positive things and I’m really happy to be part of it," Je said.
Cali said they still plan to host the event at the library, but will likely have to figure out how to accommodate more people.