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The Buffalo Grove Pride Parade has a unique origin story. Started by 14-year-old Molly Pinta—a member of the LGBTQ+ community—and her parents, the first Buffalo Grove Pride Parade was held in 2019. With the pandemic hitting the following year, the Pinta Pride Project, the nonprofit Molly’s family started to raise LGBTQ+ awareness within suburban communities and bring the parade to Buffalo Grove, pivoted quickly. The 2020 parade was a safe, socially-distanced, drive-by celebration where participants decorated their houses, and attendees drove through the designated route. This year’s will follow that same format.
For one Wintrust employee, the Buffalo Grove parade is especially meaningful. Soon after dropping off his youngest child, Morgan, at the University of Texas at Austin, Bill Eisenstot, senior vice president and deputy director of Enterprise Operations, sat across the table as Morgan came out to him and his wife, Robin. Morgan has since been outspoken about being part of the LGBTQ+ community, speaking at several events including a TEDx Talk series addressing the importance of identity fluidity and development.
Without hesitancy, Bill and Robin expressed their support and unconditional love for Morgan. Then they started looking for ways to show their support beyond their own home. A few years later, that opportunity came in the form of a video on Facebook about Molly Pinta’s efforts to bring a Pride parade to Buffalo Grove.
They quickly made a few connections: Robin, a former preschool teacher, had had Molly in her class, and Molly’s parents, Carolyn and Bob, also teachers, had had Morgan in class during middle school. Bill and Robin reached out to the Pintas and seized the opportunity to help bring the parade to Buffalo Grove. Robin even led a “free hugs” campaign during the event with upwards of 40 participants offering hugs to attendees.
“We hear so many stories of parents and relatives who turn their backs on their children and their brothers and sisters, and it just bothers me,” Bill explains. “I just can’t imagine. I can’t imagine not accepting my child, my sibling, my parents…and that just happens far too often.”
When the Pinta Pride Project decided to do the parade as a drive by last year, Bill realized that this might be something Wintrust would want to participate in in the future. Wanting to make sure Wintrust got the chance to support him, his family, and the LGBTQ+ community, he reached out in January to some people at the corporate office who put him in touch with the right people at the local bank. By the end of that same month, Bill got a “yes” from Buffalo Grove Bank & Trust even before all the details of the parade had been finalized. When more details came in April, Bill says the bank jumped right in.
“The bank was fabulous. They looked at me and said, ‘We’re all in. What can we do? Can we show up? Can we be there?’…It reinforces my opinion that Wintrust is not just about widgets. We’re not just about let’s open a bank account…and collect interest on loans,” Bill says. “It’s about us. It’s about people. It’s about the community. We advertise that, and it’s true. It’s not just a marketing thing. It’s our way of life.”
This year’s parade takes place on Sunday, June 6, all around the Buffalo Grove area with 105 houses participating and showing their pride. Bill says Buffalo Grove Bank & Trust employees will have a table set up at his house, as official sponsors, along with representatives from the Center on Halsted, a Wintrust partner organization in the LGBTQ+ community. But, that’s not all Bill has planned. He and Robin plan to go all out with a 12-foot inflatable rainbow arch, a nine-foot inflatable unicorn, a DJ, a drag queen, and signs that explain the history of the Pride flag and represent a variety of identities within the LGBTQ+ community. With Wintrust sponsoring Bill and Robin’s house and decorations, he and Robin have decided to sponsor another house in the parade to help that family show their support.
“We’re proud of our family…we’re proud of the organization that we’re part of,” Bill explains. “And, it’s fun! That’s sort of the bonus.”
The day of the parade, Bill predicts he’ll either be wearing his multi-color mohawk, or will be dressed in an inflatable unicorn costume as, what he’s deemed, the Pinta Pride Project’s de facto mascot, Unity the Unicorn. No matter what he’s wearing, one thing is certain: Bill is a true ally, and so is Wintrust.
“We’ve been part of Pinta Pride from the beginning, and when Wintrust said, ‘Sure, we’ll get involved,’ I was just tickled. I was like a kid in a candy store,” Bill says. “I’m so proud of the organization [I] work for. I see so many great things we do, and I’m just so happy that Wintrust is part of this.”