This weekend in Minneapolis the Lowry Avenue Bridge, Nicollet Mall and numerous buildings throughout downtown will light up at night with the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag in solidarity with the European nation.
The buildings that will be lit with Ukrainian flag colors in downtown Minneapolis include Capella Tower, U.S. Bank Stadium, IDS Center, Target Field, and Target Center.
Orest Kramarczuk, owner of Kramarczuk’s Sausage Company in Northeast Minneapolis, spoke with his longtime friend and Minneapolis City Council Member Michael Rainville Wednesday and asked if there was any way to get their city to light up in support of Ukraine.
Kramarczuk said: “When I heard that they were going to light up the Eiffel Tower in blue and yellow. I thought, gee, we should do that in Minneapolis. That was my inspiration. It just shows solidarity with the world. It's a good way of making up political statements."
Rainville said: "I worked with the downtown council’s president, Steve Cramer, to contact the building owners and it was very well received. We have four or five of these major buildings that are gonna do that as well."
Kramarczuk was born in the United States in 1951, two years after his parents emigrated to the country as refugees, settling initially in Louisiana before moving to Minneapolis in 1954.
He said he assumed an invasion would happen the moment that Putin recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics. He has family still in Ukraine, but has not had any contact with them since the attacks began.
Kramarczuk also said that this war is not a war between the people of Russia and Ukraine, rather one driven by Putin.
Kramarczuk said: “Putin, I don't know what he was setting out to do, but he certainly galvanized the world against him. This is not the Russian people asking for war, this is not about the Russian people. It's about Putin and his corrupt oligarchs. They have stolen their country blind and they're subjugating their people just like the tsars did.
"This is not about the Russian people versus the Ukrainian people. This is about a man who's deranged.”
Similar efforts to display Ukrainian colors have been happening all over the world.
Rainville expressed how great it was for him to help organize the building lighting for the city this weekend and show support for his friend Kramarczuk and all other Minneapolis residents with Ukrainian ties.
Rainville shared, “It feels wonderful. Being an elected official, there's projects you work out forever, and they really don't have an end. You just wonder about the effectiveness but something like this, where you can talk to the business leaders in downtown, the governments that run those bridges and explain that this could be a very healing thing for your constituents. It's just so satisfying."
Kramarczuk says that he and his company do plan to continue outreach in the Minnesotan Ukrainian community on how they can help their family members and others in need of assistance from the war in Ukraine. Kramarczuk and Rainville do expect future rallies and events in support of Ukraine to happen in Minneapolis and other parts of the Twin Cities in the weeks to come, but have not heard of any planned rallies or events yet.
The Lowry Avenue Bridge will only be lit Friday and Saturday, while Nicollet Ave and downtown buildings will have Ukrainian Flag colors lighting the city through Sunday.
Yesterday a rally was held at St. Constantine Ukrainian Catholic Church in support of the Ukrainian people. Those in attendance at this rally included Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and U.S. House Representative Betty McCollum.