TOMS RIVER-The Demographics of Toms River are slowly changing in a more progressive direction. Once a staunch conservative stronghold, those times are slowly changing. 15 years ago, Downtown Toms River was home to nationwide gay rights struggle. Last week, hundreds of area residents showed up to protest and anti-LBGTQ rally in Lakewood. This week, for the first time ever, the rainbow flag that represents the LBGTQ pride movement was raised by Mayor Thomas Kelaher and Mayoral Candidate Jonathan Petro.
“Today, Toms River Township held its inaugural Pride flag raising ceremony in front of Town Hall, kicking off this weekend’s pride celebration in the downtown area,” Mayor Kelaher’s office said in a release. “The Pride flag (or rainbow flag) has six colors. Red represents life, orange is for healing, yellow is sunshine, green means nature, blue represents harmony, and purple is spirit. The flag will fly through the month of June to honor Pride Month and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Manhattan.”
Mayor Kelaher was joined by Councilman Terrance Turnbach; Jonathan Petro, Chairman of the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce; Karen Hershey, CEO of the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce; and Lexi Davenport of Exit 82 Theatre Company.
Exit 82 is leading an all-day event “celebrating diversity, culture and equality” on Saturday, June 22nd from Noon to 5 p.m. that includes a festival on Robbins Street with games, food trucks, vendors and shows.
At the last Council Meeting, the Governing Body presented a proclamation to Exit 82 proclaiming June 22nd as Toms River Pride Day in the Township of Toms River.