Drag Queen Story Hour

Beginning last summer, a bright and colorful new attraction started drawing crowds to Brookside Gardens—and it wasn’t just the flowers. It was Drag Queen Story Hour, a monthly event that features a children’s story read by a local drag queen performer. The program, which began in July, is a partnership between Montgomery Parks, Drag Queen Story Hour of Montgomery County, and WAM & Fam (formerly Wheaton Area Moms). It’s an effort to celebrate inclusivity, showcase artistic expression, and bring new audiences to the park, says Albert Arévalo, volunteer and community engagement coordinator at Brookside Gardens. Each hourlong event starts with some stretching, movement and sometimes a song, followed by a story read aloud by local drag queen Citrine. Some stories have themes about inclusivity, while others are about nature or garden topics. During National Hispanic Heritage Month, special guest drag queen Lady J. Monroe, adorned with sparkly antennae and rainbow-colored wings, read Senorita Mariposa, a book about monarch butterflies that’s written in both Spanish and English. The free program has drawn more than 100 people to each event, Arévalo says. It’s geared toward children, but all ages are welcome. The next story hours are planned for Jan. 22 and Feb. 19.

Drag Queen Story Hour, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/brookside-gardens