The painting of a rainbow crosswalk has been started on 98th Street near City Hall in Grande Prairie to mark the official start to Pride Week in the city. The new crosswalk stretches across the street linking the city hall parking lot with the Montrose Cultural Centre.
Treasurer and Board member with the Grande Prairie Pride Society Todd Russell explains that crews were out Tuesday morning getting the colours down on pavement to celebrate the week of events.
“We are slowly trying to grow it as there is a need or opportunity. We are hoping to grow our core events as well. Hoping to have our speaker night get a little bigger.”
The first event will be held Tuesday night at the Grande Prairie Coffee Company downtown for LGBT Parents and Allies. On Wednesday night, Rainbow Yoga will be held for free by Rad Life Yoga at the Eastlink Centre. A volunteer appreciation night will be held Thursday evening.
Russell says the big celebrations will take place on the weekend. Speaker Michael Coren will be at the Grande Prairie Regional College at the Collins Recital Hall on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. for free. The youth dance will be held that same night at Howlers Lounge at the GPRC as well. The dance and drag show begins at the same time.
The final day of the celebratory week is capped off with the festival and Party in White 2.0. The festival runs at the GPRC North parking lot with kids games, bouncy castles and face painting. On Saturday night, the Teresa Sargent Hall will be full of people wearing white while enjoying food, a drag show and dancing.
This is the second annual pride celebration in Grande Prairie and Russell explains that it was well overdue to be happening in the community.
“I was always amazed, when we were putting the event together, how so many people supported the idea but they were scared their neighbours wouldn’t be supportive. It turns out we are actually a really open community. This is a chance to show that. This is a chance to show that they support their LGBTQ2 community.”
Although crews began painting the new rainbow crosswalk on Tuesday, City Transportation Services Manager Robert Carroll says they were rained out. The workers will be back on 98th Street on Wednesday with a partial road closure for work to be done.
The city covers the cost of the work and Carroll explains it will cost around $300 to $400 more for the paint than a regular crosswalk. He says a regular thermoplastic walkway can cost around $1000 while others that are just white paint cost less. He adds that labour also has to be factored in.
With recent vandalism to other crosswalks like this in Saskatoon, Lethbridge and other places around the country, Russell explains that he isn’t worried about people trying to ruin it.
“You can’t control what people do. The vast majority of people will drive by and enjoy a nice crosswalk that is initially appealing. The vast majority of people are fine with it. And for the odd person that isn’t, it is more of a reflection on them than us.”
A list of the weekend events for Pride Week below: