GARDINER — Jim Keenan didn’t come up with the idea to line a road through town with American flags, but he was quick to buy into it.

Keenan, commander of American Legion Smith-Wiley Post 4, said the idea came from firefighters who each year hang American flags on utility poles along U.S. Route 201 in Farmingdale.

Keenan embraced the concept and has started a campaign to raise $2,500 to buy 50 flags for the city. The 3-by-5-foot nylon flags come with mounting brackets and 6-foot poles and cost $49.95 each, he said.

“The original idea came from the Farmingdale Firemen’s Association,” Keenan said. “I saw them down at the Hi-Hat and they said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if the flags continued down Route 201 from Northern Avenue through Gardiner and out Brunswick Avenue?'”

U.S. Route 201, Maine Avenue in Farmingdale, turns into Bridge Street in Gardiner and Brunswick Avenue as it heads out of the city.

Julian Beale, president of the Farmingdale Firemen’s Association, said his firefighters are especially proud of the flag project.

“It just shows our patriotism and our love for this country and we’re happy to do it,” Beale said.

Beale said the firemen’s association sets aside money each year for the project, but also holds fundraisers and asks for donations.

Firemen hang 90 American flags in Farmingdale in time for Memorial Day and leave them up through Veterans Day.

“We do it for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one is to show our support to the men and women who serve our country,” he said. “Not only now, but in the past, too.”

The association also is collecting donations to buy new flags. The flags are worn and weathered after four years and many of them were damaged during a hail storm last June, Beale said.

Since the group already has the poles and hardware, Beale said the flags will only cost about $15 each.

Several city officials and Patrick Wright, executive director for Gardiner Main Street program, are helping with Keenan with the project.

Wright said it fits with the $100,000 Orton Family Foundation Heart & Soul planning grant the city recently received to help make Gardiner a destination.

“This will be a great message to send to people, welcoming them here,” Wright said. “It says something about our community.”

Keenan said he will ask the 31 merchants along Bridge Street and Brunswick Avenue to contribute to the flag project. He’s also looking for volunteers to hang the flags.

Eventually, Keenan said he would like to see American flags flying over other Gardiner neighborhoods, especially downtown.

“When you travel across the state you see flags hanging,” Keenan said. “It always makes me feel as if people really care about their community. I just think it’s a patriotic statement.”

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

FLAG FUNDING

Donations for the Farmingdale American flag project can be sent to the Farmingdale Firemen’s Association at 289 Maine Ave., Farmingdale, ME, 04344. Julian Beale can be reached at 441-7360.

Donations for the Gardiner American flag project can be sent to the Flag Project, c/o Dee Berglund at City of Gardiner 6 Church St. Gardiner, ME 04345. Or call Jim Keenan 582-6530. The purchase of flags can be to honor, or in memory of, a loved one. Donations also can be made on the city’s website at gardinermaine.com.


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