Kiel Cavalli speaks to the Solvang City Council.
During the Solvang City Council meeting, Kiel Cavalli speaks about his proposal for Pride-themed banners and creative crosswalks in the city for June. Credit: Contributed photo

A request to install banners marking Pride Month in June and temporary creative crosswalks with rainbows encountered opposition from the Solvang City Council.

On Monday night, the City Council voted 3-2 to reject an application to put Pride banners on light poles in the city. The panel also denied permission for six temporary rainbow-themed crosswalks in the city. 

Mayor Mark Infanti and Councilmen David Brown and Robert Clarke voted to deny the request. Councilwomen Elizabeth Orona and Claudia Orona (they are not related) voted against the denial. 

“Banners for a whole month? I don’t get that. That to me is political and it serves a business,” Clarke said.

Infanti said the proposal bothered him because it seemed beneficial for one business.

“To favor one business by putting up something like this doesn’t work,” Infanti said. “I would also agree with the comments made that I don’t think this makes anybody more accepting, and maybe I’m wrong. This city is pretty much accepting of the people, in my opinion and my experience around this town. I haven’t seen the prejudice that seems to be being expressed.”

Claudia Orona noted that Solvang has shops selling Christmas items throughout the year in the city with the Julefest celebration that spans more than a month. 

“Nobody’s arguing that that is favoring one business over another,” she said.

The city’s policy says banners should support events for tourism and the city’s Danish theme, staff said. It also prohibits banners for political or religious purposes or for private financial gain that doesn’t promote tourism.

Banners previously have been displayed for Julefest, Danish Days, Music in the Park, Solvang Theaterfest, the Wildling Museum and other local events. 

Rainbow-themed crosswalks could be construed as public art, but would need to go through the Design Review Committee, city staff said. They would need to still function as crosswalks, so staff proposed including white lines for safety purposes. The proposal called for removal at the end of June. 

Some speakers expressed concern that the painted crosswalks would confuse horses pulling the Solvang Trolley or participating in parades. 

Local business owner Kiel Cavalli submitted applications for the Pride-themed changes, adding that approval would send a message of support.

“Growing up and not seeing anything that resembles who I am or speaks to who I am in an authentic way leaves a pretty sad void in one’s heart,” Cavalli said.

He and his husband own a toy and bookstore, ONEderChild. They also founded The Rainbow House, a nonprofit organization to create a permanent resource center for the LGBTQIA community.

Opponents said approval would dilute the city’s Danish brand.

Pride Month banners.
Pride Month banners with rainbows and an “All Welcome” message were rejected by the Solvang City Council. Credit: Contributed photo

“We have a brand that’s unique and it’s differentiating. We’re a charming, welcoming, beautiful Danish-American community. It’s the first rule of branding to know who you are and to unwaveringly stick to it,” said Jessie Condit Bengoa, a fifth-generation Dane. “You don’t confuse, you don’t divide, you don’t alienate visitors or potential visitors by suddenly waging a woke campaign … that is not inclusive, it is divisive.”

She noted last year’s Pride parade in downtown Solvang and a Valentine’s Day social media post using a picture of a gay couple. 

“What I’d like to point out to you, though, is your Danish heritage is rooted in a country that has led the way in LGBTQ rights,” said David Silva, who spoke after his husband. “That is Danish heritage.”

Denmark legalized gay marriage faster than most of the world, he said.

“If we’re going to say we need to honor our Danish heritage, don’t pick and choose what Danish heritage you want to celebrate because they’ve been leading the way and we’re asking you to keep up with them,” Silva added.

A stylized hawk's head on a red background

Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at