Flags help neighborhoods show off their colors

By Doug Snover

A local Boy Scout troop is helping Kyrene Corridor area residents fly the American flag proudly on holidays, and picking up some spending money in the bargain.

Thanks to Troop 474, more than 100 American flags will fly again on July 4th in front of homes at The Lakes, a square-mile area bounded by Baseline Road on the north, Guadalupe Road on the south, McClintock on the east and Rural Road on the west.

Scouts will erect the flags shortly after sunrise and remove them before dark, according to Margie Kwilosz, wife of the troop’s assistant scoutmaster, John Kwilosz.

Many of the troop’s leaders and members recently were in New Mexico on a camping trip—just the kind of outing the flag project was designed to help finance.
“We started it about four years ago,” Margie Kwilosz said. Troop 474 leaders got the idea from another scout troop that rented out flags to raise money.

Here’s how it works: For $30 a year. Troop 474 scouts will provide residents within their territory with a first-quality American flag for seven holidays: Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, Martin Luther King Day and Presidents’ Day.

Uniformed scouts place the flags at each subscriber’s home early in the morning and return that evening to remove them before dark.

The 3-by-5-foot flags are mounted on metal poles topped by gold-painted golf balls as finials, Kwilosz said.

Each subscriber gets a piece of plastic pipe sunk into each home’s front yard to hold the flagpole and a discreet Boy Scout logo spray-painted on the sidewalk to mark the location.

Troop 474 has almost 200 customers for its flag rental program, according to information provided by John Kwilosz.

“There are some big advantages of signing up for the project,” the assistant scoutmaster wrote in an article for the Lakes’ monthly newspaper, The Lakes Log. 

“The flags go up regardless if you are home or not. They are usually stationed close to the street, which allows them to be seen easily, even at a distance. Since they are the best quality, American made, and flown only on the seven major national holidays, they always look crispy new with vivid colors.”

The flags also may have some unexplained impact on the local weather. Since the project started, there never has been a rainy flag-flying holiday, Margie Kwilosz said.

“Once in a while, we have a sprinkler system that goes on and the flags get wet so we have to dry them out properly,” she acknowledged.

Interest in the Troop 474 flag project “has been very good,” she said. The flag project began shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C., she noted. After that, many people who never had on were insistent on getting an American flag, she said.

Troop 474, which was created in the late 1970s, has about 50 members, Kwilosz said. The troop meets at Fees Middle School.

The flag project “is an outstanding way for the boys to learn responsibility and reliability,” John Kwilosz wrote.

The troop also provides a “retirement” service to destroy worn-out flags “with the respect and dignity” they deserve, he noted.

More information on Troop 474 or its flag project is available by contacting John Kwilosz at (480) 838-1741.–if he isn’t out camping, that is.