IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Hundreds and hundreds of balloons covered the floor of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Idaho Falls on Friday afternoon. Dozens of people came to help prepare balloon backpacks for Saturday's Idaho Falls Pride parade.
"We make the crazy balloon backpacks that you see walking down the Pride parade," said Arynn Hawkins, the marketing director of Idaho Falls Pride.
This is the first year Idaho Falls Pride has opened up the balloon backpack-making to the public. The group did this so more families and children can get involved in the event.
"What we do is provide a lot of the backpacks and stuff for the local GSA's (Gay-Straight Alliances)," Hawkins said. "We go to them and get them involved. It's important to have them feel like they're part of the parade and that they're all-inclusive and we're all part of a community."
This event is a staple for the Pride parade, with organizers saying that they have been making the balloon backpacks for as long as the event has been going on.
"Every year, we try to work a little harder and market it a little more and make sure that the entire community, allies included, are welcome at our festival," said Johannah Thompson, the president of Idaho Falls Pride.
The balloon backpack-making brought people of all ages together in support of the same cause.
"It feels very heartwarming just to know that there are other people out there that are on your side," said Elijah Meacham.
For some, Saturday will be their first Pride ever.
"It's just a great thing to know that there are so many people, just in this city, even," said Serenity Abel.
For others, it is something they look forward to attending each year because of how special it is to them.
"The celebration is all about being who we are," said Fred Marcum, the treasurer of Idaho Falls Pride. "So many people hide in the closet. I for many, many years was one of those. Now I am out, I'm married and happy. Life is good."
Idaho Falls Pride hopes to see a huge turnout this weekend and see many people celebrate themselves and those around them.
"We want to celebrate as Idaho Falls Pride and as a community all the ways you are you," Hawkins said.
Helpers at the balloon backpack-making were given free lunch sponsored by Lucy's Pizza and the Sandwich Tree.
Saturday's Idaho Falls Pride event is called "This is Me." The parade starts at 11 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Idaho Falls. It is free and open to the public.