Springfield to add rainbow Pride crosswalk on Main Street; installation planned for spring 2023

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Cultural Partnership and the Springfield Pride Parade are teaming up to install rainbow-colored crosswalks downtown before the 2023 Pride Parade.


The City Council last week approved plans to install permanent rainbow-colored crosswalks on Main Street at the four-way intersection at Main Street, Court Square and Bruce Landon Way by the entrance to the MassMutual Center and the William C. Sullivan Regional Visitors Center.

Taurean Bethea, founder and CEO of Springfield Pride Paradethe organization that staged the city’s first Pride parade earlier this month, called the project “super exciting,” adding it reflects the city’s changing attitudes.

“I truly believe the city has this really new energy and the city of Springfield is actually becoming very innovative,” Bethea said. “It’s just gonna make the city look good, and it’s going to make people of the LGBTQ+ community just feel supported and feel as if they are seen. And that is one of our greatest missions as an organization.”

The council vote last week was 11-0, with councilor Malo Brown abstaining. The idea had previously been endorsed by the city Board of Public Works.

Karen Finn, executive director of the Springfield Cultural Partnership, said the idea had been in the works before the city’s first Pride parade on June 4. Thousands of people turned out for the parade along State and Main streets, which was followed by a block party.

“The success of the Springfield Pride Parade amplified the desire to make this crosswalk happen, and we are grateful to the City Council for fully supporting this initiative,” she said. “Next year, everyone will be able to celebrate during Springfield’s Pride Parade with these crosswalks as a backdrop.”

Finn said the crosswalk idea is a collaboration between people from different organizations. She cited Bethea, Britt Ruhe of Common Wealth Murals and Chris Seabrooks of the Springfield Parks Department.

Common Wealth Murals, through its Fresh Paint Springfield program, has installed dozens of murals across the city, including the roadway Black Lives Matter mural on Court Street in front of City Hall.

Finn said the location is a natural in part because it would form a straight line connecting the Black Lives Matter mural on Court Street with the Spark! Public Art Display in the refurbished Pynchon Plaza at Landon Way and Chestnut Street.

The cost of the project is around $8,000, which is mostly for the paint and design and would be privately financed through donations.

The design for the project has not been completed. She provided a rudimentary mock-up of the project, showing the four crosswalks in the intersection filled in with bright-colored rectangles instead of the traditional white ones. The final design could change, she said.

The plan is to finish the design and install the crosswalk in May, two to four weeks before the 2023 Pride parade, she said.

The paint would be permanent and durable, considering Main Street is a high-traffic area, she said. The plan is to freshen it up with repainting every two to three years, and make touch-ups before that when necessary.

Finn said she does not believe it will be universally acclaimed, and there will be some people who hate it. She noted when the Black Lives Matter mural was installed two years ago, someone came by and did a burnout on it with their vehicle.

But afterward the damage was repaired and the mural was restored.

Finn said she expects the crosswalks will result in immediate criticism, but she said, “It’s not being done for the naysayers. It’s to show support of everyone in our community.”

Northampton has had a rainbow crosswalk on Main Street by Thornes Marketplace since 2014. It was installed to celebrate that city’s annual Pride parade and to recognize its LGBTQ+ community.

Finn said she does not believe a Pride crosswalk in Springfield would have been proposed, much less supported, a decade ago. It speaks to how much the city has changed that one is being supported now, she said.

“I think Western Massachusetts is a very friendly place for LGBTQ+ residents, and I think that we should be very proud of that,” she said.

Bethea agreed. He left Springfield at 18, returning only recently, because he felt the city at that time had no LGBTQ presence.

“It’s great to see the city moving in the right direction and really taking these major steps forward,” he said. “So I don’t know if it was possible two years ago, but I’m so happy that it’s happening now.”

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