A day after heavy rains, a new type of rainbow appeared in Nelson just in time for the Pride Parade.
Nelson rainbow crosswalk organizers Sadie and Hopi Glockner and Rose Shine, along with their volunteer painting crew Kyra and Julia Burkart and Petra Hartley made history Sunday morning as they added permanent colour to the previously white crosswalk spanning Stanley St. at Victoria.
With the blessing of the City of Nelson and a little prep work by volunteers from Nelson Police Department and Nelson Fire Rescue, the young women worked their magic early Sunday morning after the rain. It was a youthful gesture in support of Kootenay Pride.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses according to Sadie, 18, who came up with the idea with her sister Hopi and friend Rose, both 21.
“You see rainbow crosswalks all over the Internet, in the US. Kelowna has one and there’s even in Castlegar so why not here?” asked Glockner.
They also thought city council would be on board.
“With the new council, the city is becoming as alternative as its people,” said Sadie explaining why they thought a rainbow crosswalk would be accepted. And they thought it would be a nice thing for the Kootenay Pride Festival which was just days away.
But how they initially went about it was another story.
With the conviction of making it happen Glockner said: “We decided ‘let’s just do this, super badass’.”
Dressed up like ninjas, hoods and all, armed with spray paint cans they went out in the middle of the night to paint a crosswalk at a different location.
“It was a terrible idea,” said Sadie. “We got caught by an off-duty officer on a bike.”
She recalls the officer saying the “sentiment is amazing but this is not the right way.”
They regretted their actions and their heads hung low.
“Walking away from the scene, we were saying to each other ‘This was totally wrong’ and we felt so ashamed,” said Glockner.
The police officer connected them with deputy chief Paul Burkart who Glockner said was “so awesome” giving them suggestions of how to approach city council to ask for permission.
The problem was the next meeting wasn’t for another two weeks, which would be well after the pride festival and parade.
Glockner doesn’t know exactly how many phone calls were made but they finally got the green light.
They got the paint on Saturday and arrived at the crosswalk Sunday at 7:30 a.m. and embarked on painting the crosswalk as Sadie put it, in a “legitimate” way. Barricades and cones redirected traffic and electric fans dried the wet paint. They also got help from Burkart’s daughters Kyra and Julia plus Petra Hartley.
Glockner then spent the day at work, unaware of the attention the colourful crosswalk was already receiving.
“It was a funny way to come about it,” she reflected, “but it led to something good.”