Giving new life to Old Glory

Fundraiser led by Hillsboro’s Paul Geray will line city streets with U.S. flags starting this spring

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Posted: Friday, March 13, 2020 6:00 am

Paul Geray wants to paint the town red, white and blue. The owner of Paul’s Hometown Repair is spearheading efforts to line Hillsboro’s city streets with U.S. flags seven times a year starting on Memorial Day.

The citywide project will act as a fundraiser and partner with a small handful of the community’s local youth groups, including Hillsboro Boy Scout Troop 263.

“I’m doing this because it would be patriotic and help beautify the city,” Geray said Tuesday inside his downtown repair shop in Hillsboro.

“I think it would look nice and make Hillsboro a destination spot on those holidays. Maybe people will make a trip to town to see what this all about.”

Geray got the idea for the flag project after visiting his brother in Iona, Idaho, a city of 1,800 residents about 7 miles northeast of Idaho Falls, on Labor Day a few years ago.

Geray pulled into his brother’s farmstead late one night while on a trip to take part in the Eastern Idaho State Fair’s annual horse pull.

When he woke the following day, Iona’s streets were flooded with American flags.

“The flags were all over and up and down the road as far as you could see,” Geray said.

Geray proposed replicating the project during a Hillsboro Business Association meeting last summer and spent the past few months hammering out details for the project.

Residents and merchants interested in participating in the project will have flags planted in front of their homes or businesses seven days a year for a $35 fee.

Days scheduled for 2020 include: Memorial Day on May 25; Flag Dag on June 14; Hillsboro Days on June 20; Independence Day on July 4; Labor Day on Sept. 7; Patriot Day on Sept. 11; and Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

Groups involved in the project will set out flags along boulevards at daybreak on those days and retrieve them right before nightfall.

Geray plans to place steel rods in participating yards the night before to cut down the time spent setting up the flags the following day.

Flags will measure 3 feet by 5 feet and come attached on plastic PVC piping that slips over the steel rods for easy installation.

The Boy Scouts, Hillsboro High School’s Close Up students and youth involved in Pulse (formerly Hillsboro’s SADD chapter) have signed on to set up the flags.

If 233 flags are purchased, each group that takes a day shift to set up and retrieve the Stars and Stripes will earn $1,000 for its organization.

Five dollars from each $35 donation will be set aside to replace flags while $30 will be split among the groups.

“The goal is to get one in every yard in Hillsboro, but right away we wanted to try to get 233 because that makes the math easy,” Geray said.

The flag committee assisting Geray with the fundraiser created a Facebook page (Hillsboro Stars and Stripes) this month to share updates on the project.

Initially, forms to participate in the project will be set out at businesses like Dakota Heritage Bank and Geray’s downtown repair shop along Caledonia Avenue.

Geray said organizers hope to avoid going door to door to collect donations, although that could change depending on the community’s response.

He said doesn’t think the country’s political divide will be a factor in whether the flag project takes off locally.

“I think people in Hillsboro will support it. Everybody loves their country, although some just love it in a different way,” he said.

“When I first saw this in action, I thought ‘Wow, this is really nice.’ These people really love their country and they’re all willing to display their flags.”

Anyone wanting to participate in the flag project by mail can send $35 donations to Hillsboro Community Flag Project, c/o Hillsboro Business Association, PO Box 208, Hillsboro ND 58045.

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