Photos by: Crow Point Creations
June 10, 2019 by Carol Britton Meyer
Hundreds of flags are waving all around town in groups of 50 or more in a show of patriotism and support for the Fourth of July Parade -- a compelling sight.
The flags are a real boost to community spirit leading up to the parade and surrounding events.
Don't miss your chance to join the Fourth of July Parade Committee's 50 Flags Campaign to raise money for the parade, which is attended by huge crowds from Hingham, other South Shore communities, and beyond.
This is the final week to order flags for the week of 6/30-7/6 for $75 to display 50 flags. You must order by noon on Thursday, June 27th in order to have your flags placed for the final week leading up to July 4th. To order flags visit https://unipaygold.unibank.com/transactionInfo.aspx?CustomerID=1474&TransID=20855.
"Each year the Parade Committee raises more than $40,000 to hire performers (including bands) and present the town's iconic parade to nearly 25,000 spectators," said Chairman Jim Murphy.
The funds to pay for the parade come from the 50 flags compaign, the annual Selectmen's Golf Tournament, an online auction, the sale of Fourth of July parade buttons (the Rotary Club plays a major role in this activity), and private and corporate donations. No taxpayer dollars are used to fund this traditional event.
50 or more United States flags -- placed at homes, businesses, or places of worship for one week or longer -- are available through the week of July 4. Committee members and other volunteers collect the flags after the week is up. You can also order flags to donate to someone else. A sign is placed on each property's lawn to show support for the parade and the Fourth of July.
To add a bit of history, when longtime Hingham resident Tom Hoffman was named Grand Marshal several years ago, he was so moved that he joined the parade committee that year and brought the 50 flags campaign started three years earlier to the next level.
Tom took the reins and expanded it with student involvement, community service, and his tremendous energy, turning the campaign into an amazing community event and fundraiser for the parade," Murphy said.
Hoffman's entire family loves the parade. "It's one of Hingham's major offerings -- and this was a way to give back to the community," he said. Hoffman remains a member of the Parade Committee.
HHS students help
Because of the logistics involved, members of the Hingham High football team, HHS girls field hockey team, the Best Buddies program at the high school, and this year, the HHS Veterans Appreciation Club help the committee install and remove the flags.
This high school volunteer effort is a combination of community service and donations that are made to their respective organizations and groups from a pool of money that comes from flag campaign proceeds. "Placing and removing the flags is really labor-intensive," Hoffman said. "At the same time the students gain an appreciation for patriotism -- we explain what it is and what the Fourth of July is all about."
One of the biggest rewards is the positive community feedback. "I've never heard anyone who observes us installing flags make anything but positive comments," Hoffman said. "While installing flags at the Lincoln Statue in downtown Hingham, three or four people stopped by to say how awesome they looked."
Hoffman gets a lot of enjoyment out of placing the flags. He and his 21-year-old daughter, Colby, removed the 384 flags that were placed on the Town Hall lawn on the occasion of the town's 384th anniversary in 2019.
Then it was on to the Middle School to install 100 flags along the driveway, which will remain in place through the Fourth of July Road Race, which begins there. This installation was paid for through a donation.
Each flag is used for between four and five installations because the sticks eventually break or the flags become otherwise damaged. To further extend the "life" of the flags, once the stick breaks the cloth part is stapled onto long strips of wood that are installed at the Hingham High turf field before the annual 911 ceremony. This effort is in cooperation with Hingham Veterans' Services Officer Keith Jermyn. They remain up through Columbus Day weekend. "This is a good way to reuse them," Hoffman said.
Number of flags has grown
Murphy has high praises for Hoffman's efforts over the years. "Through his continuing leadership we've nearly quadrupled the number of properties (from 80 to 300) where we install flags to celebrate our servicemen and servicewomen while raising much-needed funds for the parade," Murphy said. "The campaign has come a long way since Keith Jermyn gave us 300 flags after using them over Memorial Day weekend [several years ago] to start a fledgling campaign." Now the committee has more than 13,000 flags in its inventory.
"Every property looks amazing while displaying 50 or 100 flags," Murphy said. "Seeing the town covered with more or less 10,000 flags the week of the Fourth of July is a tremendous sight to behold! Once folks sign up, they tend to be repeat customers, because the flags look great at every house."
Parade Committee member Dewitt DeLawter noted recently as an example, "A lot of houses in the Conservatory Park neighborhood join the campaign. It's really cool!"
"All-in-all this is a fun program," Hoffman said. "The proceeds cover about one-third of the cost of the parade."