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Event Recap: Rutherford Pride Flag Raising

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

Photo Credits: Bonnie and Mike Corcoran

Christine Bleidel, Co-Founder of the Rutherford Pride Alliance

On Saturday, June 1st, Rutherford had its first Rutherford Pride Flag Raising in front of Borough Hall.

The event began with an opening speech by Christine Beidel, one of the founders of the Rutherford Pride Alliance (RPA) and a LGBTQ+ activist for many years. She spoke about what an important day this was for the community of Rutherford.

Next, everyone was invited to participate in the Flag Salute and Sophia Masullo from Bergen County Academies sang the National Anthem. Pastor Ron Verblauuw, Rutherford Congregational United Church of Christ, led everyone in prayer. Christian Fuscarino, Garden State Equality, congratulated the community on being present at the event and supporting the need to accept and welcome all to our community. He thanked the many members of the Rutherford Pride Alliance who worked so hard to organize the Flag Raising.

Sophia Masullo singing "The National Anthem"

Pastor Ron Verblauuw

Councilwoman Maria Begg-Roberson

Councilwoman Maria Begg-Roberson, an early advocate of the Rutherford Pride Alliance, spoke on behalf of the Council. Roberson introduced the members of the Council. In April, Council members unanimously approved the Rainbow Pride flag raising. The flag will remain up the whole month of June. She thanked the RPA, Borough Hall employees, and the Rutherford DPW for all their assistance in preparation for this occasion. Roberson explained, “We are here to show that we love our neighbors.” She also read excerpts of the Resolution sent by Assemblyman Gary Schaer, which recognized Rutherford's first flag raising. In the Resolution, Schaer congratulated the residents of Rutherford for their “welcoming spirit of solidarity”. Roberson called on the Board of the RPA (Rob Lyons, Ed Casadonte, David Grassetti, Paul Stabile and Karen Masullo) to accept the resolution.

Freeholder Tracy Zur

Freeholder Tracy Zur spoke, “I’ve been to quite a few flag raisings and this is by far one of the biggest turnouts. Rutherford did it right!” Zur spoke about how she has seen laws changing for LGBTQ community, “There is still work to do, but we are making strides. Thank you for continuing to be the voice of love and inclusion.”

Former Mayor Glenn Elliott, former Councilman Ray Tetro, Passaic County Freeholder Bruce James, and Bergen County Freeholder Germain Oritz were also thanked for their participation.

Ed Casadonte, Vice Chairman of the Rutherford Pride Alliance, read a letter written by Senator Cory Booker. In the letter, Booker extended his gratitude to the RPA. He explained that he is an ally for LGBTQ+ rights and congratulated the Borough on this monumental occasion.

Rob Lyons, Chairman of the Rutherford Pride Alliance

Chairman of the RPA, Rob Lyons thanked Bea Goldberg for her tireless efforts as the leader of the Rutherford Civil Rights Commission. He also thanked her for giving RPA the opportunity to put up a display in community window at Coccia Realty. Lyons also recognized Barbara Bennett (Rutherford Recreation Department Director who recently passed away) who was a huge advocate for both the Civil Rights Commission and the establishment of the Rutherford Pride Alliance. On behalf of the RPA, Lyons also expressed his gratitude to the Rutherford Police Department, Mayor DeSalvo and the Council members, and Freeholders Zura and Ortiz.

“This is a remarkable crowd. At age 17, I wouldn’t have believed that I’d be back in my hometown raising the Rainbow Pride flag. As we raise this flag that represents love and acceptance, we demonstrate that all are welcome in our town. We welcome them for who they are, who they love and all things in between," Rob Lyons.
Council members and the Board of the Rutherford Pride Alliance accepting the Resolution

Finally, Lyons introduced some of the members of the Rutherford High School choir and said, “As they raise their voices, the flag will be raised.” They sang “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman. Some of the lyrics include, “I won't let them break me down to dust. I know that there's a place for us. For we are glorious.”

Some of the members of the Rutherford High School Choir singing "This is Me'

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