Political fundraiser in Park Ridge draws backlash after pictures show lack of masks


PARK RIDGE, Ill. — A political fundraising breakfast held over the weekend in Park Ridge has caused backlash from the mayor and residents.

A fundraising event called The Red, White and Blue Breakfast, hosted by the Republican Women of Park Ridge, was held Saturday morning at the Park Ridge Country Club.

Members of the group, as well as several top Republican candidates running for office, were in attendance. Organizers posted photos of the breakfast to Facebook, then later took them down after backlash on social media from community members.

“From the pictures it certainly looked like they were making very little effort to social distance,” said resident Ginger Pennington. “In that case, I wish someone in the club would have stepped forward and asked them to wear their masks when they weren’t eating and follow some of the public health guidelines all the rest of us have been trying to follow.”

Meetings and social events are limited to 50 or fewer guests or 50% of the overall room capacity. Guidelines also state attendees should wear a facemask except while seated.

“I am extremely disappointed in the pictures I saw. This event was a lapse in judgement, a mistake and very frustrating to me,” Park Ridge Mayor Marty Maloney said. “I would have expected more from the Park Ridge Country Club and the Republican Women’s Group.”

The group sent the following statement Monday and the following pictures.

“The Republican Women of Park Ridge is extremely proud of the successful, informative, and safe
breakfast held this past weekend at the Park Ridge Country Club.

The breakfast was conducted in compliance with the strict rules imposed by our host, which did a very good job of adhering to the guidelines issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health. All tables and chairs were spaced appropriately throughout the rooms that were used. Additionally, the Republican Women of Park Ridge took active steps to ensure the safety of its attendees including providing free masks and hand sanitizers to attendees upon arrival and requiring that all attendees wear masks and social distance.

All attendees removed their masks to eat. After sitting down and starting to eat, attendees were asked to stand to recite the pledge of allegiance, and some did not put on their masks as they recited the pledge. Some individuals removed their masks momentarily after the event when taking a photo. The very limited times when attendees were not wearing masks were warranted and reasonable.

Unfortunately, there are people in our community who do not genuinely care about the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 but take an opportunity such as this to harass our organization. We are not surprised by this and will continue to promote our message of freedom, family values, and patriotism to ensure a healthy, equitable, prosperous and free America.”

Illinois Republican National Committeeman Richard Porter said he spoke at the breakfast and sent the following statement.

“I attended and spoke at the Republican Women of Park Ridge event. Every person I saw wore a mask when entering until they sat down to eat, at which point people removed their masks. I wore a mask the entire time, other than when sitting to eat, during the pledge and when I spoke —  from a podium that was well more than 6 feet away from others. 

That a Democrat mayor threatens the establishment that hosted this nice little lunch, and that some in the news media are spun up about a lunch these women worked hard to make compliant, tells you much about the mayor’s and the media’s character and partisanship.”

The Park Ridge Country Club sent the following statement.

“On Saturday, October 4th, Park Ridge Country Club hosted the Republican Women of Park Ridge for a coffee/breakfast. There have been some questions raised, via social media, and photos from the event, that show guests without masks or social distancing at the event. We want to assure you that PRCC was in compliance with IDPH and CDC protocols for Covid-19.

By design, we accommodated them in three spaces:

· The two rooms of the ballroom which open to the outside terrace.

· The outdoor terrace.

· None of the three spaces exceeded the fifty – person rule.

· No more than six people were allowed at each table and all the tables were six feet apart.

· The doors to the terrace were open at all times to increase air circulation and allow guests to dine outside.

· Guests moved fluidly throughout the 3 designated spaces during the event.

· Masks and hand sanitizer were available at the entry door, the check in table, and at each dining table.

Management strictly enforced the use of masks and gloves with the staff and all guests except when eating.

PRCC will continue to follow IDPH and CDC safety protocols to keep all guests, members, and staff safe.”


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