‘This is home’: Arenas Road, surrounding area officially recognized as a Palm Springs district

Roughly 100 people gathered at the intersection of East Arenas Road and South Calle Encelia as the ribbon was cut, a proclamation was read, and signs were unveiled officially proclaiming the area a district.
Arenas Road has always been a special place in Palm Springs. Following a ceremony Thursday morning, it’s now an official city district. Here, John Taylor of KGAY-106.5 Radio helps unveil the official city sign.

In a memorable moment just before the city’s annual Pride celebration kicked into high gear, Arenas Road and the surrounding area — the very heart of the city for many — was officially recognized as a district Thursday morning.

Driving the news: Roughly 100 people gathered at the intersection of East Arenas Road and South Calle Encelia as the ribbon was cut, a proclamation was read, and signs were unveiled officially proclaiming the area a district.

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  • Aside from signs reading “Arenas District” at either end of Arenas Road, crews will erect additional markers elsewhere in the city directing people to the district.

What they’re saying: Blackbook Bar owner Dean Levine began the ceremony by simply stating, “Welcome to the Arenas District.” He went on to deliver a deeply meaningful speech, telling how the simple street lined with businesses that were designed to cater to the LGBTQ+ community has become much more to everyone who visits or lives here.

  • “This is home,” Levine said, adding later, “All of this means nothing if it weren’t for our residents and visitors who make this the LGBTQ+ home in this valley.”
Brian Wanzek, AKA Bella da Ball, shows off a new crosswalk sign off Arenas Road that was unveiled Thursday morning.

Looking back: Levine and others, including Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton, told the story of how the earliest business founders on Arenas set out to create not only a welcoming place, but a place where businesses that served the unique needs of LGBTQ+ community members could set up shop.

  • From bars and restaurants to barber shops and leather shops, “We have 16 thriving businesses that represent some of the best that Palm Springs has to offer,” Levine remarked. “Our shops are for everyone under the rainbow.”

But wait: In an “only in Palm Springs” moment, officials with the city and Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce had one more surprise for those in attendance: A new crosswalk sign was unveiled proclaiming “Drag Queen Crossing” at the intersection of East Arenas Road and South Calle Encelia.

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