Hundreds gather as local church in Santa Ynez Valley replaces stolen Pride flag

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SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif. – On the roof tops, on the lawn, and even on a horse.

Hundreds gathered to watch the pride flag go up at Saint Marks-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos.

“The community needs to have protection, healing and we need to be one community,” said commissioner Tracy Beard of the Commission for Women.

“This is our little community where we hope some of that ugliness that gets out in the world wouldn’t affect us,” said Rabbi Deborah Lewis of the Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community.

The community was shaken when the flag was stolen two weeks ago.

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“We need a space where people feel respected, connected and affirmed is the absolute foundation which should make up our lives,” said resident Erica Flores of Sant Ynez.

“This is nothing new. This is nothing different. This is not about change, this shouldn’t even be about change … this should be about acceptance and peace,” said board of directors Alyce Barrick of the SYV Pride.

Now that the pride flag has been replaced, community members say they plan to continue flying more pride flags.

“I feel like the community is stronger than the incident that happened … and if they don’t already … they are learning how important it is to express love and that everyone deserves love,” said president and CEO Shelby Sim of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley.

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The Saint Marks congregation hopes this incident is a chance for the community to grow stronger than ever.

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“we’re able to rely on one another and creating a virtual circles that probes trust.”

{music with pride flag waiving}

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patricia martellotti

more than a dozen community leaders attended today’s flag raising ceremony.

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