Community comes together to replace damaged flags

Published: Nov. 22, 2020 at 6:28 PM CST
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WINNEBAGO, Ill. (WIFR) - Less than two weeks ago, severe storms ripped through the town of Winnebago, damaging homes, businesses, and one of the town’s most beloved traditions.

“We drilled 178 holes and put in 30 inch PVC pipes from one end to the other its about a mile long of flags on both sides of the street,” Winnebago resident Mary Gross said.

For 11 years Gross and a group of community members have put stars and stripes up and down Elida St. in Winnebago, but severe weather put the tradition at risk.

“We had 180 flag poles and we have 12 left that wasn’t damaged,” Gross said. “I’d say it’s about 90 percent we lost.”

Gross started the tradition on flag day in 2009, she says it was $25 apiece to get each of the flag and pole sets. With a majority of the flags, destroyed Gross realized she may need some help. She then set up a GoFundMe account, asking for $1,000 and in less than 12 hours the community met her goal.

“It just blew me away, I think I was more emotional with that than I was seeing the flags torn up,” Gross said. “The response of people is just outstanding it’s unbelievable.”

Gross says the community contribution is amazing, she hopes to have new flags for next year. Gross says she wants to retire the old flags properly, something Veteran and Cub Scout Pack 396 Master Chantyl Outzen knows a lot about.

“We want to make sure we do due diligence to our flag and show the respect and dignity it deserves,” Outzen said

Gross says she will reach out to the boy scouts about holding a ceremony for the damaged flags, and says the community support for the flags of Winnebago warms her heart.

“You will never get me out of this town is how it feels, I am very very proud of Winnebago,” Gross said.

Gross says she hopes to host the flag retirement ceremony in May, right before the new flags of Winnebago make their first appearance on Elida St.

To donate to the purchase of new flags for Winnebago, access Gross’ GoFundMe account here.

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