In June, the windows of businesses all across Orono were decorated with paintings celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. Depictions of different pride flags, people holding hands, positive symbols, and encouraging messages helped to spread awareness and joy all throughout the town. Everyone who contributed to the paintings were able to do so while wearing masks and staying socially distant. Local highschool students helped with painting: Laura Cost-Kirkpatrick, Rose Sunderland-McKay, Magali DeLanee, Rachael Wingard, Adrien Sockalexis, Sierra Wolfe, Ariana Cassinelli, Aila Farrell, Katie Owen, and Brielle Biehn. The encouraging paintings brought a lot of joy to people all throughout town, and we are so grateful for everyone who helped to make this happen!
The Orono Pride Zoo was inspired by Katie Quirk and Tim Waring’s Outdoor Sculptures created at the start of the pandemic to help add life and community to our drastically changed community. The zoo sculptures were built by Cami Carter, Jon Hawley, Katie Quirk and Tim Waring. Each sculpture was created with a specific Pride flag in mind, and the sculptures were painted in the likeness of each chosen flag. The Orono Pride Zoo found its home in front of the Orono establishments of Woodman’s, the University Credit Union, the Church of Universal Fellowship and the Orono Town Office. They lived in front of these buildings for the months of June through September, and then moved to the town of Ellsworth where they inspired Ellsworth to create their own animal Pride sculptures. Currently the Orono Pride Zoo lives outside of each of the three RSU 26 schools.
In the spring of 2020, a group of local residents got together to petition the Town of Orono to paint a rainbow crosswalk as a way to recognize and celebrate Pride and the LGBTQ+ community. It was from this early advocacy that the Orono Pride 2020 events and the Orono Pride nonprofit were born. Painted in the colors of the Pride Progress Flag, the Town chose the crosswalk at Rt.2 and Pine Street because it is the one most frequently used by Orono's K-12 students upon their release from school each day. The current application is exterior concrete paint, which can wear quickly, but the Town is exploring partnerships with other local communities interested in cost-sharing materials for a more permanent application.
Carrie the One, Mama Martini, and Vito Vain joined with the Orono Public Library to bring a nine-week series of 'Stories in Drag.' Local folks of all ages enjoyed stories of inclusion, diversity, love, kindness, gender, and ability streamed online by their favorite local drag artists. The program was funded by donations from community members and organized in partnership with the Town of Orono.
For Orono Pride 2020 a group of area residents rallied together and generously purchased Pride Progress flags for the Brandon M. Silk Memorial Bridge. The University of Maine and Town of Orono graciously hung the flags which flew on the bridge from June through July.
We joined with Pride Across Maine, the statewide socially distanced celebration, to bring the Pride Passport Event here to Orono. Folks from all over traveled to visit the Pride Zoo, Pride Scapes, and newly minted Pride Crosswalk.