American flag gets a Sunday debut on Causeway

IT TAKES MANY HANDS — Zack Hebert joins his dad Nate Hebert and other members of the Naples Fire and Rescue Department (left to right)
Rick Paraschak, Jim Lavertu, Sid Shane Sr., Jess Allen, Ephrem Paraschak, Justin Cox, Dylan Rinehart, Andy Burnham, Adam Madura and Fire Chief Chris Pond hold a garrison American flag that flew on the Causeway recently. Bobby Silcott, who was not in the photo, helped hoist the banner. (Photo courtesy of Rick Paraschak)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Ever purchased a gift that seemed so perfect it begged to be admired before it was officially presented to its recipient?

Members of the Naples Fire and Rescue Department (NFRD) experienced just that recently, when they got together to attach a giant-sized American flag to the 77-foot pole at the town’s newly-constructed scenic vista.

Both the garrison American flag and the extra tall pole were purchased for the townspeople through NFRD fundraising, according to NFRD Emergency Medical Technician Rick Paraschak.

“We wanted to give to the community something we could be proud of, and they could be proud of,” Paraschak said on Monday.

Each year the NFRD holds various fundraisers — including operating a food shack during Naples Ice Carnival. Those fundraising activities support the needs of the department and the community, according to Paraschak.

This year, the department decided to spend some of the money on a new flag pole and an American flag to coincide with the Bay of Naples Bridge and Causeway renovations that are part of the Maine State Department of Transportation (MDOT) construction project that began in 2010.

“We got the money through fundraising mostly. We had a gentleman who contributed a large chunk of money in memory of his wife,” Paraschak said.

“It was the fire department’s contribution to the Causeway renovation,” he said.

A BEACON FROM THE BRIDGE — The American flag flew from a 77-foot pole at the scenic vista on the Causeway recently. The garrison flag will take a semi-permanent status as soon as an electrical box on the other side of the bridge is energized. (Photo courtesy of Rick Paraschak)

And, everybody could not wait to see the flag flying — a little ahead of schedule.

On Sunday Sept. 23, about a dozen people from the NFRD spent the morning unfurling the extra-large American banner and hoisting it up the flag pole.

“We used the assistance of Evergreen Electric. We used their pole truck,” Paraschak explained.

“It is amazing how many of us were holding it until it was up in the air,” he said.

“That adds something to giving it to the town. It is a team effort kind of thing,” Paraschak said, adding, “We purchased it from the company, and did all the installation, and then put up the flag.”

Proud, “Old Glory” graced the northeast end of the Causeway for one solar day; and before the sun set that Sunday in September, the crew of volunteers removed the “Stars and Stripes.” It disappeared from the scene so quickly because, according to flag etiquette, the American flag cannot be left hanging if it is not properly lit during the nighttime, Paraschak said.

Unfortunately, it is a daunting chore to take the flag up and down on a daily basis, he said.

“The problem we have is: The flag is a garrison flag, which is really big,” he said.

According to the definitions from various sources, a garrison flag measures 28×30 feet.

“In order to do it properly, we have to make sure it doesn’t touch the ground,” he said.

“You need a minimum of three people to do that. It is difficult to get three people together at the same time in the morning to put it up, and then again at night,” he said.

Residents who spotted the flag a few Sundays ago will soon see it flying again. Once an electrical box on the Causeway is energized, the U.S. flag will have an almost permanent status at the scenic vista.

That will happen when the construction taking place reaches the point that electricians can activate an electrical panel on the opposite side of the bridge from the scenic vista, Paraschak said.

“The contractor (Wyman & Simpson, Inc.) who is working on the Causeway side, the electrical panel they are putting in there now controls the other side of the bridge,” he said.

According to MDOT Resident Engineer Craig Hurd, the timeline to have electricity to that area is between four and six weeks.

Hurd confirmed that the construction area located on the Brandy Pond side of the bridge is where the electrical box will be installed.

Paraschak said the NFRD has already researched and put into place the lighting, which will put the U.S. flag in the spotlight whenever darkness falls.

“These lights are not an ordinary spotlight. We had an electrical engineer come out and make sure the light would reach the flag from that distance,” he said.

The lighting is mounted below the scenic vista, a 15×15 foot structure that was constructed from concrete.

The NFRD invested approximately $12,000, Paraschak said. The flag pole cost $8,000, and the flag itself cost more than $800, he said.

The location could not be better either.

“The best view of it would be where it could be seen from far away,” he said.

He anticipates that the flag will have a second debut on Veterans Day. “Hopefully, when we have a dedication of the entire Causeway sometime this spring, the flag can be dedicated too,” Paraschak said.