RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Rutherford Mayor Joseph DeSalvo ordered a Christmas lights display attached to an American flagpole on Park Avenue be taken down citing concerns that it disrespected the flag.
"Out of respect for the American flag. I believe nothing of decoration should be on the flag pole," DeSalvo told the Daily Voice.
The display was was set up by Chris and Mike Schule, of Schule Landscaping Company, who said they had permission from the borough council to string the lights up around the flagpole in the shape of a Christmas tree, NJ.com reports .
DeSalvo said the landscapers only had permission to set up decorations, not put lights on the flagpole. He added the display could be in violation of a federal law that mandates the flag cannot touch anything, including the ground, water or merchandise. He also said the lights would make it impossible to lower the flag to half staff when necessary — which the town has had to do three times in the past three weeks.
“They thought it was a respect thing toward the American flag, which I understand, but after talking to some veterans and just people in general, they don’t see where it would be offensive,” Chris Schule, a Rutherford resident, told New Jersey 101.5.
The council plans to debate the lights issue at its Dec. 14 meeting.