Central Alberta Pride plans rainbow crosswalk again during Pride Week in Red Deer

Vandalism in 2016 turned into positive sense of community

With preparations well underway for fifth annual Central Alberta Pride Week, local organizers have launched an online fundraising campaign to help put some colour again into a main downtown intersection in Red Deer.

The Central Alberta Pride Society has launched at $2,700-fundraising drive to cover the labour costs of painting two rainbow crosswalks at Ross (50th) Street and Gaetz Avenue. Pride Week runs from Aug. 13 to 20 in Red Deer.

Serge Gingras, chair of the Central Alberta Pride Society, said the costs of the rainbow crosswalk were covered by the City of Red Deer. It was a much-appreciated gift but with the understanding it wasn’t something the city could afford to cover every year, hence the online fundraising.

The paint and supplies has been donated by Fargey’s Decorating Centre this year. City of Red Deer workers will do the actual painting.

Last year the crosswalk was defaced twice when someone drove over it, spinning their tires and leaving marks on it. Vandalism of rainbow crosswalks has not only occurred in Red Deer. “It happens everywhere,” Gingras said.

“To me it just reinforces the notion that yes, we do need that Pride Week, not only to celebrate who we are but also to remind people that there is discrimination in our community and there are people who don’t agree with who we are, and to create greater awareness.”

But last year’s vandalism actually resulted in something positive, Gingras said.

“It made people rally around us who normally wouldn’t speak up. …. When they saw the vandalism happening, they said, ‘No we’re not like that, we’re better than that.’ I really like the very positive sense of community that came out of it.”

They had 400 people at the Pride Week proclamation last year, the most ever. Gingras believes they will surpass those numbers this year. Pride Week activities are mostly family friendly, and aim to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion in Central Alberta of the LGBTQ+ community.

The growth of Pride Week has been steady, and the crosswalks help create a lot of awareness, he said.

To donate to the rainbow crosswalk cost, people can go online to gofundme.com/rainbow-Crosswalk-red-deer

Anyone interested in being involved or sponsoring can visit centralalbertapride.ca or email centralabpride@gmail.com

barr@reddeeradvocate.com