Love and sunshine were out in full force at yesterday’s North Jersey Pride Festival in Maplewood. In just four years, the “little Pride that could” has turned into an annual staple that is both highly anticipated and well-attended. The family friendly event grows by leaps and bounds each year, and this year was no exception. Perhaps it has something to do with the atmosphere ~ all are welcome to relax and enjoy a lazy, wonderful Sunday in Maplewood’s Memorial Park.

Adding to the already festive mood were musical acts and performers ranging in style from the Lavender Light Gospel Choir to the Paper Mill Show Choir to the Kinsey Sicks. As the emcee, Scott Nevins kept things moving throughout the day with his quick wit and adorable smile.

There was much to keep the kids entertained as well, with an entire corner of the park dedicated to their amusement. Options included face painting, a bouncy house and a bouncy slide, as well as a few booths where they could create art with sand. Not to mention the ice cream trucks, which helped everyone cool down on a hot day.

north jersey pride festivalThe more adult booths at the park featured Hand-Crafted Nicaraguan Pottery, beautiful hand-made glass objects and one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. More politically minded organizations such as PFLAG, the Human Rights Campaign and Garden State Equality sat side by side numerous religious organizations such as Oheb Shalom Congregation, Christ Church Summit and St. George’s Episcopal Church.

All in all, it was a fantastic day. Love and openness permeated the air, along with the intoxicating smell of sausage and peppers.

Roger Ian Rosen is a South Orange resident, actor, writer, activist, husband, son, brother, uncle, step-father and angry gay who blogs over at