Lawn signs brighten Cranford during coronavirus quarantine

CRANFORD, NJ — Drawings of colorful unicorns and optimistic flowers together with cheerful butterflies and bright rainbows have turned into lawn signs and are grabbing the attention of Cranford residents. Designed to be a silver lining of the current crisis stemming from the outbreak of the coronavirus, these lawn signs are planted around town to brighten everyone’s day.

According to its website, Front Line Appreciation Group, or FLAG, is dedicated to helping feed front-line health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic while also keeping local restaurants in business. The group was started by Liz Bernich of Chatham, who teamed up with another mom, Gina McGuire of Madison; the group raised more than $100,000 for the cause in its first two weeks of existence.

Rebecca Tantillo, a psychiatry account manager, and Caren Demyen, a yearbook publisher with Herff Jones, lead the Cranford FLAG team, along with Sharon Steele, Barbara Zeckman and Joe Colangelo.

“We had been brainstorming on how we could help and came across an article on the FLAG group in Summit,” Tantillo said on May 11. “We both had reached out and, with the help of Joe Colangelo, we were able to get started. There are now over 100 groups nationwide.”

The lawn signs, some creatively hand drawn and others decoratively colored in, were made by Cranford’s youngest artists — children who submitted drawings to the FLAG team.

Steele recently delivered signs to Cranford’s three long-term care facilities — Atria Senior Living, Cranford Rehab and Nursing Center, and Cranford Park Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center — to brighten the area.

“Cranford Strong/FLAG lawn signs were also available for residential homes/businesses,” Tantillo said.

As the only group within FLAG that has done this so far, Cranford FLAG members believe these decorative lawn signs have the potential to touch hearts and lighten moods during a dark period when everyone has been forced to a standstill. Spreading feel-good messages of cheer, hope and inspiration throughout the community, Cranford FLAG hopes the signs will also bring the community together.

According to Tantillo, the reaction to the lawn signs seems to be unanimously positive.

“The community was very supportive of the idea,” Tantillo said. “Our hope was that the staff members saw them on their way in and out of work to know how much support our community is sending their way.”