Flag Day Parade to celebrate patriotism

Local residents are encouraged to join in a celebration of patriotism during this year’s annual Flag Day Parade on Friday.

Those who wish to join the march should meet at 5:30 p.m. in parking lot E, at the intersection of West Fourth and Hepburn streets.

The parade will travel up Fourth Street until it reaches the flag located on the campus of the Pennsylvania College of Technology. There, a small ceremony will be held from 6:15 to 7 p.m.

The Repasz Band will perform traditional patriotic music as part of the celebration. Many local community organizations, including Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups and churches are expected to attend.

Awards will be given for largest group, largest family, largest organization, and most creatively decorated stroller or wagon.

Tony DiSalvo, better known as “The Flag Man,” urged locals to join the march, and bring their children along as well. DiSalvo, president of the flag committee, believes it is important to teach youngsters about the history of our nation’s flag.

DiSalvo started the parade 30 years ago, after noticing that many Americans are not familiar with Flag Day, or its importance.

“Many people don’t even realize it’s Flag Day. They ask me why we hold the parade in the middle of the week. I explain it dosen’t matter what day of the week it falls on we’re always going to march on June 14,” DiSalvo said.

“Now, the president has asked Americans to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at 7 p.m. On Flag Day. So we will recite the pledge at that time, as part of our ceremony,” he added.

DiSalvo especially requested that families bring their children out to the parade.

“I would like to instill upon the families how crucial it is to bring their children out to events like this, which teach them the history of America. It doesn’t matter how young they are, it’s never too early to start promoting and honoring our flag,” Disalvo said.

One local group of youngsters is sure to be in attendance the students at Little Lambs Preschool in South Williamsport.

Since 2001, teacher Laurie Randall has encourages her students to donate their spare change to help fund the flag. This year, the children donated about $800 to the flag fund.

In total, the students have given about $10,000 over the years, said William J. Martin, vice president of the committee.

Martin explained that the collection was part of an ongoing effort to fund the flag.

“The type of flag we have can only fly for about five weeks before it begins to get tattered. We can send them away to be repaired twice, and then they have to be destroyed with honors,” Martin said.

Each-1,800 square-foot flag costs around $2,000 and must be replaced about six times a year, Martin explained. Other operational costs include electricity and flag pole maintenance.

“What we try and tell everyone is that the flag at the college does not belong to the school; it belongs to everyone in the community,” Martin said.

DiSalvo agreed.

“I tell the kids, this is your flag too, you should be proud of it, respect it, and help keep it maintained,” he said.