Main Street (or S. Middletown Road) in Nanuet was particularly quiet this cold morning. It was 50 degrees at 6:45am when the Nanuet Rotary Club showed up at the fire house on Prospect Street. The skies were just beginning to lighten when the club hit the streets.
They loaded up two cars with a little more than 100 American flags to put out on Main Street. The Nanuet Fire Department lets the club store the flags at their fire house and the Rotary club has been doing this since 1956. The members involved were Jerry Parsells, Roger Gong, Pete Beckerle, Roy Giampiccolo and Chris O'Rourke. O'Rourke and Beckerle invited fellow tennis buddy John Zayczny to help out.
"We used to drill the holes ourselves. Now at the newer part of the street, the town made the sidewalks with holes in them fo us," Parsells said pointing to the holes in the concrete sidewalks for the flag poles.
Some of the holes had dirt and debris blocking it so Gong cleared them up by twisting an auger into the holes. Parsells made this auger himself out of a wood bit welded into a steel pipe.
Laughs and jokes were swapped along the way. They return at 4:30pm to take down the flags. Beckerle said that anyone is welcome to come help put these flags out. The specific holidays the flags are put out are:
- Columbus Day
- Election Day
- Veterans Day
- Armed Forces Day
- Memorial Day
- Flag Day
- Independence Day
- and several of the presidents' days.
The days also depend on weather. Flags are not placed out when it's raining or if there are icy conditions. On Memorial day, the flags are flown at half mast and at noon, the Nanuet Fire Department raises them. After the September 11 attacks, the club placed out the flags and have put them up on 9/11 since then. Years ago, a about 20 flags were stolen and at $90 apiece, they were a pricey replacement.
"It comes out of our own pocket," Parsells said. However, he added that as the years went by, there hasn't been a problem with the flags being taken.
After all the flags were standing, they drove over to College Avenue. The Nanuet Rotary club also does a monthly clean-up of College Avenue between Route 59 and Church Street. They made their way up and down the avenue with orange trashbags, litter sticks and gloves.
Their morning labor ended happily with a breakfast at Pancakes Plus where they shared stories about fishing, golf and turtles.