A ribbon-cutting celebration for the new Ames inclusive crosswalk took place Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Fifth Street and Douglas Avenue.
Around 30 individuals were in attendance for the event from both Iowa State and the Ames community.
After both John Haila, mayor of Ames, and Reg Stewart, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, spoke about the importance of the crosswalk, the City Council held a rainbow ribbon that Haila and Stewart then cut.
The Ames City Council, in collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, pursued a custom crosswalk as part of the city’s efforts to make all people feel welcome in Ames.
“This crosswalk is a small but visual way of demonstrating that we are a community that respects and appreciates all people,” Haila said.
Haila said that Stewart approached him about the idea for the crosswalk and he later proposed it to the City Council and they voted unanimously in favor of the crosswalk design.
“Ames is a diverse community,” Haila said. “It is important to communicate that everyone is welcome and invited to come participate and interact with our community.”
The crosswalks on Douglas Avenue feature a minority-inclusive pride rainbow. The crosswalk on Fifth Street to the east features gender non-binary pride colors, and the crosswalk on Fifth Street to the west features transgender pride colors.
“This is really an exciting project from a city standpoint,” Haila said. “One of the City Council’s goals is to promote a sense of one community and we believe that this is an opportunity to communicate to everyone in Ames that everyone is welcome here.”
The intersection was closed early on Tuesday, and city crews masked off and painted the color blocks. The intersection will remain closed to vehicle traffic until Wednesday morning.
Stewart said that deciding on the where and what of the crosswalks was pretty simple to plan, but finding a way to go about doing the application of the design was a tougher decision.
“Originally the idea was to do heat applied vinyl, which has a seven to eight year lifespan,” Haila said. “We went and got bids but they were two to three times what we were looking to do. We are going to get more bids this winter.”
Haila said they decided to go with paint so that it would be ready for Ames Pridefest as well as the start of the school year.
The new crosswalk was designed to be completed prior to the annual Pridefest event, which is planned for Saturday in front of the Ames Public Library.
“It has been 50 years since stonewall,” Stewart said. “50 years of advocating for basic human rights. 50 years may seem like a blink of an eye for some folks but for others, it can be a very long time, but who would have thought 50 years ago that a small town in central Iowa would be saying this: 'We see you, we hear you, we welcome you, but most importantly from this moment forward we will also include you.'”
Stewart said that it is one thing to talk about inclusion, but it is another thing to show it when no one is around, such as having this permanent crosswalk design.