Local drag queen story time achieves Guinness World Records title

Philadelphia kicked off Pride Month on June 1 by achieving a Guinness World Record for ‘largest attendance at a drag queen story time reading’ at the National Constitution Center. (Photo: Stephanie Ramones for Visit Philadelphia)

“Today was an amazing day!” exclaimed Brittany Lynn.

The Philadelphia drag activist was referring to the just-completed drag queen story time held June 1 at the National Constitution Center, which officially established a new Guinness World Records title for “largest attendance at a drag queen story time reading.”

The event was hosted by PGN, and sponsored by Visit Philadelphia. Several of Philadelphia’s most prominent drag performers were in attendance to read to an enthusiastic crowd of children and their parents. Officials from Guinness were on hand to formally tally the attendance, which clocked in at 263.

Community response was heartening, given the last-minute nature of the announcement. Many attendees only learned about it via social media less than 24 hours in advance. The early hour was also a concern; things were scheduled to kick off at 9 a.m., when most drag queen storytimes are scheduled for late mornings or early afternoons.

Early arrivals had to pass through Constitution Center security, a necessary precaution given that drag queen story times have recently been frequent targets for disruption and threats of violence by right-wing extremists. Speculation filtered through the waiting crowd as to whether conservatives protesters would show up. But they never did, and events proceeded smoothly.

The reading was kicked off by PGN Publisher Mark Segal, who welcomed the crowd and explained the event’s goal of setting a Guinness world record. He then introduced the main attraction: Brittany Lynn.

Brittany Lynn, resplendent in huge hair and draped with a flowing, rainbow-sparkled cape, was greeted with a rousing ovation. She then began by reading the book “Hello Philadelphia” by Martha Day Zschock to a receptive audience. She was followed by several prominent local drag celebrities: Aurora, Icon Ebony Fierce, Athena Chanteuse and Morgan Wells. Other stories read included “Twas the Night Before Pride” by Joanna McClintick, “Elmer” by David Mckee, “The Family Book” by Todd Parr and “Kevin the Unicorn: It’s Not All Rainbows” by Jessika von Innerebner.

The crowd was enthusiastic and responsive throughout. One mother, Deniz, brought both her sons; the younger experiencing this type of event for the first time. 

“I’m so glad he gets to experience this,” she said.

Another mother, Stacey, who came with her daughter, marveled at the positive energy that was being shared. 

“It’s such a happy and loving atmosphere, so different from what’s out there these days,” she said.In a press release sent out by Visit Philadelphia shortly after the event announcing the success of achieving the Guiness record, Mark Segal was quoted saying, “Creating history-making moments like we’ve done today, hosted on land synonymous with our country’s fight for fundamental rights and freedom, serves as a powerful reminder of the resiliency, talent and culture that make up the fabric of our great American city.”

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