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Hunterdon Life

Vandals see a rainbow on Hunterdon County pedestrian bridge


Gwenn Seemel moved to Lambertville a little more than two years ago and, within a year and half, she started to see vandalism corrupt the Alexauken Creek Spillway Pedestrian Bridge in Delaware Township.

“It began with ‘Trump’ and ‘MAGA’ scrawled on the bridge in permanent pen” said Seemel. “But soon it was in spray paint. And then the messages were being carved directly into the wooden banister.”

The vandalism was ongoing for most of 2023.

“Every time someone attempted to erase the vandalism, more would appear,” said Seemel.

Finally, Seemel decided to take matters into her own hands.

Near the end of December, Seemel made over-sized adhesive “Band-Aids” and glued them with wheat paste onto the carvings.

“The idea being that they’d metaphorically heal the cuts,” explained Seemel.

During her “Band-Aid Project,” Gwen tried to reach park management to get the issue addressed that way.

Unfortunately, Gwen’s adhesives were ripped off. More messages were scrawled into the bridge.

“At this point, I realized that the subtle intervention of the Band-Aids wasn’t (a) powerful enough response,” said Seemel, who then decided she was going to paint the entire bridge in rainbows.

“I chose rainbows because they’re a beautiful part of the natural world and because happening upon a rainbow in nature almost always sparks joy for people,” she said. For her, the rainbows also provided another comfort.

“What’s more, I’m queer and so are many people in this community,” Seemel said.

Before the cleaning of her rainbows, Gwen recalled the vandals’ destroying her art by writing “woke” on top of the rainbows.

“Clearly meant as a rejection of the compassion and critical thinking that are vital to questioning the systematic oppression of marginalized groups,” Seemel said.

“Also written in permanent pen near the rainbow — ‘Thank you Rainbow bridge people’ — delights me every time,” she said.

She says she believes her rainbows provided exactly what she intended to the community which was joy, and the act of kindness proved it.

“From the day I got involved to the day the bridge was returned to its original appearance, it was two months,” she said.

The bridge was cleaned in late February. Since then, another wood bridge just north of the Alexauken Creek Spillway Pedestrian Bridge began to be vandalized. There, swastikas joined the Trump carvings.

Park Superintendent Lauren Rojewski was credited with cleaning up the vandalism.

According to Semell’s ongoing social coverage of what’s happening at the bridge, vandals continued to come back into March with more carvings.

However, the Delaware Canal State Park authorities are back as well and determined to keep the bridge clean and free of hateful remarks.

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