A bakery's planned drag show and brunch for people of all ages is at the center of controversy in Chicago's northwest suburbs, with the shop's owner reporting threats and police preparing for planned protests of the event.
UpRising Bakery and Cafe's owner Corinna Sac has been hosting a variety of events at her bakery in Lake in the Hills in McHenry County since she opened.
"This is a family-friendly environment and when we opened I vowed to always make it family friendly," she told NBC Chicago.
As inflation costs rose, she said those events became even more important for her business. That's why she decided to host a drag show and turn it into a kid-friendly event for all ages.
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"The intent was to take a fun event like a drag show and make it family-friendly," she said, adding that she offered lower prices for children because they consume less food.
But what she didn't expect was the reaction she would receive on social media, with many upset at the decision to allow children at the event slated to be held this weekend.
Last Thursday, the bakery's Facebook page posted it had received 121 "new hateful comments and fake negative reviews."
"This is 7 days to relentless harassment and it is ridiculous and exhausting," the post read. "This has got to stop. Our community as a whole should be further along than this. There is no space on this planet for this kind of hatred and negativity. STOP IT, MOVE ON!"
Sac said it has been "nonstop harassment" since.
"We've had people come in and do stuff here. The police have been heavily involved here since the beginning," she said.
In the days following the event's announcement, Sac said someone walked in and spit on the cafe's display case, another left a bag of feces outside the door and someone posted a letter on the business that read "pedophiles work here." She even had someone report her to the Department of Children and Family Services.
"I was scared this was going to ruin the business me and my husband have put everything into," she said. "This business, this is my everything besides my children."
Lake in the Hills police said they began receiving reports from "concerned residents" who saw an advertisement about children being allowed to attend the event. The police department investigated and said "no violations were found" and "no nudity or sexually explicit content is reported to be a part of the scheduled performance."
The department urged residents not to rely on social media claims surrounding the planned event and to instead contact them with concerns directly. They added they are also investigating threats made against Sac and her business.
The controversy has led to what authorities say are planned protests, both against and in favor of the bakery's event.
"The safety and Constitutional rights of everyone who may choose to participate is the priority of the police department," the department stated. "We are taking measures to ensure that everyone has the right to engage in peaceful protest. However, we wish to remind everyone that under no circumstances will the police department tolerate a disruption of this event or any activity that disrupts the peace."
Sac said the response was "not what I wanted."
"It's disrupted the community here," she said. "Never did I think in 2022 in a place where I believed was pretty progressive is showing us with what we are still living with here every day."
Despite the harassment and planned protests, Sac said the event will go on this weekend. The bakery has installed cameras on the property and roving patrols are monitoring the business at least once an hour.
"I went to bed and said if this is the hill we die on we are going to die loud and proud. We have always fought for equality for everyone," Sac said. "I just felt so right in my soul standing up to the online stuff. I talked to all my staff to make sure they are all comfortable going forward, and everyone has backed us."
The "Starry Night Drag Brunch" is set to take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, with doors opening at 6 p.m. The event costs $35 a ticket for a meal and general admission or $50 for those who would also like bottomless mimosas. Those under the age of 18 can get a ticket for $20.