Wanted downtown: made in America flags for Memorial Day

LACONIA — With Memorial Day approaching, members of the Laconia Main Street Initiative think it's high time for the current batch of American flags flying downtown to be retired and replaced with new ones. And, while they're at it, the merchant members are hoping to purchase and install about 240 planters throughout the downtown area.
The beautification effort will cost $13,500, said Main Street president John Moriarty, adding that flags are generally good for about two seasons of use. "They're well beyond their acceptable life," he said of the current stock.
The outgoing flags also have another flaw — they were made overseas.
Since the Main Street Initiative seeks to promote the vitality of local economies, Moriarty said it seemed important for the flags to be purchased from a domestic supplier. "Buying flags made in America is globally local, purchasing them from Trustworthy Hardware on Union Avenue is regionally local," he said.
The flags will be made of nylon, more durable than the previous polyester, and will feature red and white stripes that are sewn together, rather than red stripes printed on a white piece of fabric. Stars are also embroidered rather than printed. The flag poles will be longer than before, and aluminum as opposed to wood, so Moriarty thinks the new flags should have a longer life span than the previous, imported ones.
The 80 flags will be installed on light posts throughout downtown. Joining them will be 120 barrels and 119 hanging baskets, planted with supertunia flowers mimicking the flag's tricolors. The flowers will be purchased from Petal Pushers on Parade Road, which is offering the organization a good deal as well as expertise on keeping the flowers vibrant.
Moriarty said most of the funds for the purchases will be solicited from member businesses. However, the organization is also asking for help from the general public. "This is our whole town's Memorial Day parade route. We want to make that statement that this is important... I think it's a metaphor, we all need to pull together for America, we all need to pull together for our community."
Those who wish to participate can do so through www.laconiamainstreet.org, mailing to P.O. Box 654, Laconia, N.H., 03247, or by dropping by The Gallery on Canal Street or All My Life Jewelers on Main Street.
Melissa McCarthy, owner of The Studio, said, "I think that the community piece is big — I think that a lot of people are willing to be negative and complain, but there's a significant amount of people that are willing to make change happen. We're looking to create a downtown that's a destination, a beautiful place to go. A place to shop, a place to eat, a place to conduct business. This is a statement that shows that we care how downtown looks... It's going to be really beautiful."
Jim Daubenspeck, owner of LaBelle's Shoe Repair, said he was supportive of the effort. "Buying local matters, the U.S.-made certainly matters in our store and in our community."

Melissa McCarthy, owner of The Studio, and LaBelle's Shoe Repair owner Jim Daubenspeck display a flag, similar to the 80 that the Laconia Main Street Initiative hopes to replace in time for Memorial Day. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)