• This Is Rutherford

Military Banners on Park Avenue

By Jennifer Ersalesi

In an effort to remember those who have fought for our country, Park Ave is now lined with banners displaying photos and service information about Rutherford residents who served or currently serve in the military. This is Rutherford recently spoke with Rutherford resident Anne Irving who worked with her husband John “Jack” Irving, Council members, Mayor Frank Nunziato, and the staff at Borough Hall to establish this banner program in the Borough of Rutherford. TIR also spoke with Councilman Thomas Mullahey about his involvement in this banner program.


TIR: Where did the idea for this banner project come from?

Anne Irving: The idea for the Rutherford military banner program began when I was watching the news. They had a segment highlighting the veterans’ banners hung in the downtown area of Brookdale, Long Island. They looked beautiful and I thought it was a nice way to honor those who have given so much and go largely unrecognized in the community.


TIR: Who was involved in this project?

AI: A few days after I had seen the news report, I called the Mayor’s office in Brookdale. They referred me to the Mayor’s Assistant who is in charge of their Banner project. She spoke at length about the project and how well it was received in their community. She gave me all the information I needed to present to the Rutherford Council. I then contacted the banner company that Brookdale used for their project. They in turn gave me information about the banners, how long they are expected to last, and the whole process, including advertising, etc. My husband and I then worked on presenting to the Council. I sent an email to the Mayor and Council describing the program. Councilman Tom Mullahey contacted us and he met with my husband and me, then went to the regularly scheduled board meeting that same night and he presented the proposal and it was approved. I was shocked that it was that easy.


Councilman Mullahey took charge of the program from there on, getting necessary ordinances passed and working with town employees to get the program off the ground. Councilman Mullahey and JiHee Bagnuolo, Assistant to Mayor Frank Nunziato, worked with several companies to find the best banners.

We are so lucky to have such a hard-working cohesive staff in Borough Hall. I had an idea and they made it happen.

TIR: How did people submit information for these banners?

AI: I did a rough draft of the banner application, which the staff at Borough Hall edited and put on the town website. The application can be found under permits and licenses, all the information needed can be found there. Click here for the link.

TIR: Why is it important to highlight the men and women from Rutherford who have served in the military?

AI: Now that the banners are hanging on Park Ave., we can see all these young people who sacrificed so much on our behalf. There are six brothers (the Laval brothers, click here for more information) from one family who served in different branches of the armed forces. Can you imagine what their loved ones went through sending them off to war? I hope all Rutherford residents take a stroll and study the faces of those who served; some of whom died in battle, were prisoners of war, and all of them who did what was asked of them by their country. They deserve to be recognized for their commitment.


TIR: Why were you interested in taking on this project?

Councilman Tom Mullahey: I couldn't say no to this project. Prior to this, Anne and I never met. She emailed me regarding another town, Brookdale in Long Island, that had a similar program for their veterans. It sounded great so I met Anne and her husband at their home and Anne had the entire program mapped out. We had a Council meeting later that evening and I asked her to present the idea to the Mayor and Council. She came up with the idea and did her own research. The Mayor and Council were very impressed and unanimously supported the program as we know how important it is to support our veterans.


TIR: How did you go about getting the banners made?

TM: There are several companies that make these banners. While all were similar quality, the prices ranged quite a bit. JiHee Bagnuolo in the Purchasing Department reached out to a variety of vendors for prices and samples. She kept Anne and me in the loop throughout the process and we were able to get a quality banner made for a very reasonable price.

TIR: Now that the banners are proudly displayed along Park Ave you must be proud to know that you helped get them there. Why is it some important that these banners are displayed?

TM: Yes. I'm very proud to have played a role in this project. They look great on Park Ave. We're hoping we can stretch them all the way down to Union Ave as the program picks up steam. We ordered forty-three in the first wave and we are already in the double digits in orders for the second. I love seeing the pictures of our past and present men and women in the Armed Forces. We live in the greatest country in the world and we owe that to the people who fought for our freedom. I can't imagine how proud the families are to see these banners on a daily basis.


TIR: Are there others who worked with you on this project?

TM: Anne Irving is the pioneer of this project. JiHee did a ton of legwork and handled all the communication with the families and the proofs from the vendor. Our Borough Clerk, Missy Scanlon, orchestrated the hanging of the banners with Chris Seidler and our DPW. Special thanks to the DPW for getting them hung so quickly and beautifully.


For those that are interested in purchasing a banner to celebrate the military service of a Rutherford resident, they can complete the application which is found online here and or email JiHee Bagnuolo at jbagnuolo@rutherfordboronj.com.