Red Deer deputy mayor Ken Johnston and Central Alberta Pride Society event coordinator Joel Graham lead people across the rainbow crosswalk for the first time after its unveiling Thursday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff) Red Deer deputy mayor Ken Johnston and Central Alberta Pride Week event coordinator Joel Graham lead people across the rainbow crosswalk for the first time after its unveiling Thursday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Watch: Red Deer’s rainbow crosswalk unveiled

Central Alberta Pride Week kicks off on Sunday

A colourful sign of unity and acceptance was unveiled in downtown Red Deer on Thursday morning.

About 40 people, including representatives of the LGBTQ+ community and city officials, gathered for the unveiling of a pair of painted crosswalks at Ross Street and Little Gaetz Avenue to unofficially kick off Pride Week in Central Alberta.

Central Alberta Pride Society board member Jillian Best said there has already been an increased level of support for the week. This is the second year a crosswalk was painted in downtown Red Deer.

“It’s amazing to see this many people come out and support the LGBTQ community,” said Best.

Deputy mayor Ken Johnston was one of several people who danced across the crosswalk in support.

After the official unveiling, a handful danced across the crosswalk.

Johnston said he was happy to be included in the dance as he has a lot of respect seeing what the LGBTQ+ community has done.

“They have the courage to say, ‘This is us, we matter and we’re celebrating.’ To be included in that group as they danced across the intersection is pretty special to me,” said Johnston.

The rainbow crosswalk is a sign that the city is welcoming and diverse, he added.

“As a citizen of Red Deer for the past 20 years, I see something like this and I’m really proud of the way we’ve evolved and understood that inclusion has to have some visual signage.

“This is something we should all be proud of, pardon the pun with Pride Week,” Johnston said.

Event coordinator Joel Graham said the Central Alberta Pride Society is happy to paint the crosswalk for a second year.

“The city allowing us to paint this is a huge token of appreciation … We’re truly thrilled and excited to be able to feel welcome and included in the community,” he said.

Last year the rainbow crosswalk was vandalized a few times by car tires, something Graham said he hopes will not happen this year.

“We are prepared for it if it happens but we hope that it doesn’t. We do have a number of volunteers who have offered to come and guard our crosswalks during night time and the more vulnerable hours,” Graham said.

The crosswalk was completely crowdfunded with the Pride Society raising more than $2,700 from individual and business donations. Red Deer business Fargeys Decorating Centre donated the paint for the crosswalk.

To see what is going on in Red Deer during Pride Week, visit www.centralalbertapride.ca.

sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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