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Annapolis

‘I’ll Be There for You’: Annapolis councilmembers channel ‘Friends’ with group photo

Annapolis Alderman DaJuan Gay was in first grade when the hit show “Friends” ended its 10th and final season in 2004.

It wasn’t until years later that Gay, a 25-year-old Democrat from Ward 6, watched the NBC sitcom that follows the lives of six twenty-somethings living in New York City. Now, Gay and his City Council colleagues have created their own piece of “Friends” fan fiction by posing in a photo that mirrors the sitcom’s iconic opening scene featuring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and their co-stars dressed in black and white, crowding onto a couch and frolicking in a giant stone fountain singing along to “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts.

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Few on the council are huge “Friends” fans, but that didn’t stop them from having a little fun as a group last month, said Gay, who can be seen in the photo plopped in the middle of a brown leather couch that closely resembles the one the cast cavorts around in the show.

“I just think it’s good to get together outside of chambers and do stuff like this. It shows a different side of us,” he said.

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The photo was taken on Mayor Gavin Buckley’s office couch in front of a fountain at the Park Place condominium complex ahead of a council meeting last month. Elly Tierney, a Ward 1 alderwoman who lives there, first had the idea to get a photo of the eight council members together with Buckley after they failed to have one taken following the 2021 municipal elections in November, she said.

Buckley and seven incumbents, all Democrats, won their respective races. The lone newcomer, Karma O’Neill, who hails from Ward 2, rounded out the all-blue council.

“I said to Gavin, when we win, let’s get in the fountain and take a photo,” Tierney said. “That’s how it started and then it transformed into the ‘Friends’ idea.”

As is his way, Buckley took the idea and ran with it. He enlisted helpers to haul the couch out of his City Hall office into his pickup truck and down to Park Place an hour before the April 25 meeting. The lamp with the stained-glass shade that Cox turns off at the end of the scene was sadly absent. So too were other props like the multicolored umbrellas and rubber duckies in the fountain.

“We had a council meeting so we couldn’t frolic in the fountain,” Buckley said.

Members of the council began sharing the photo on their social media pages Monday night after they adjourned Monday’s meeting at City Hall.

Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier, of Ward 5, tweeted the photo captioned with The Rembrandt’s refrain “I’ll be there for you.”

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Schandelmeier was in elementary school when the show started, though he claimed to be more of a “Seinfeld” fan, anyway, another 90s sitcom with a cult following.

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O’Neill said she has seen nearly of all 236 “Friends” episodes and has since done a re-watch with her kids, she said. On her Facebook post, she opted for, “Your City Council is here for you!”

“More than anything I think Gavin’s idea was to show off that we are fun, and while we don’t always agree, we can appreciate each other’s differences and backgrounds,” O’Neill said.

Next to Gay in the photo, Rob Savidge, the Ward 7 alderman, has his legs propped on Gay’s lap as Ward 4 Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson lounges with the signature Aniston leg-cross. O’Neill and Tierney are perched on the back of the couch. Buckley and Schandelmeier stand arm-in-arm with Ross Arnett, of Ward 8, and Rhonda Pindell-Charles, of Ward 3, in the background.

“I mean, I didn’t know what to expect and I’m not a ‘Friends’ watcher so I wasn’t familiar with what it was all about but, you know, it turned out to be pretty cool,” Finlayson said.

The photo will be hung in the second-floor hallway of City Hall, part of an interior makeover Buckley has undertaken as he starts his second and final term in office.

“Getting them all to smile at once was the hardest part,” he said.


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