One of New Jersey's biggest and most spirited gay pride festivals carried on as planned Sunday despite the massacre at a gay club in Orlando.
But the North Jersey Pride Festival did not shy from the slaughter of 50 people less than 10 hours prior, recognizing the tragedy even as it celebrated.
"We as a community here in New Jersey, we will never be silent about our love," said Sen. Cory Booker, a featured speaker at the event. "Today, though darkness rolled into our nation, today I still choose love."
Booker addressed a crowd in the hundreds, many of them families with young children who were struggling to explain the violence of the morning.
"In some ways I feel glad we were going to be together as a community at a time like this," CJ Prince, Executive Director of North Jersey Pride, told NBC New York on the sidelines of the Maplewood event.
The festival opened with a choir singing Lady Gaga anthems, but it took a more serious tone later in the day as Booker spoke. Festival goers rushed to embrace Booker and thank him, even as an a cappella band threatened to drown them out.
"We feel like we want to really acknowledge it; yet, at the same time, we're here to celebrate our community and our joy," Prince said.