‘It’ll find a home’

State flag display to be removed from Depot Park due to safety concerns, relocated; U.S. flag to remain

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Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism Executive Director Zac Wood listens as Andy Palys talks about the role of the Kiwanis Club in the creation and maintenance of the state flag display at Depot Park. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism (CPRST) and the Cullman Kiwanis Club on Wednesday morning announced plans to remove the 50-state flag display, the Walk of Flags, from Depot Park due to safety concerns, with a view toward a new and improved display elsewhere, possibly Heritage Park.

CPRST Executive Director Zac Wood told The Tribune, “The poles now, they’re just in disrepair and they’ve become a safety concern.”

Both the metal poles and concrete pedestals, which were erected by the Kiwanis Club in 2011, have developed structural integrity issues, especially the pedestals, which have begun to crack and break. One pole has already fallen over, and while it has been set upright again, CPRST no longer flies a flag on it.

Cullman Kiwanis Club President Andy Palys said of the nine-year-old display, “It was the brainchild of one of our members, Ms. Martha Burchell. She actually got the idea from FDR’s (Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s) home in Georgia (the “Little White House” in Warm Springs). She took a visit there, and she came back to a Kiwanis board meeting and said, ‘We should have something like this.’ Well, at the time, the only place in the state that flew all 50 flags- 51 flags (including the U.S. flag, which will remain in Depot Park)- was the State House, the Capitol. We thought it was a wonderful idea, so we ran with it. It was dedicated on Veterans Day 2011- 11/11/11. It’s been here for all of us nine years now.”

He added, “But, as you can see, time has not been kind to the flag poles, some of the flags and the bases. We’ve known this was coming for a while; the City contacted us five or six years ago, so it’s been in the works.”

Standing across from the display, Palys talked about the number of people he has seen visit the Walk of Flags and how many different states’ license plates he has seen on cars stopped at the park. 

Indicating that the Cullman Kiwanis Club recognizes the value of the display, he added, “This is not the end; it’s the beginning of chapter two. We don’t know where it’s going to go, but we are in full support of the City and Parks and Rec. It’ll be located somewhere; it’ll find a home.”

Wood concurred, affirming CPRST’s commitment to working with the Kiwanis Club to find a new home for the Walk of Flags, noting Heritage Park as a possible new location.

“We’re looking at maybe replacing these down at Heritage Park, on the entrance,” he said. “I know that was talked about before, and I think that would be a great place to do it. There’s a lot of folks from surrounding counties and states that come there for ball games and tournaments, so it’d be a good place to put it.”

The Kiwanis Club will take the flags and poles down, and CPRST will store all flags and equipment until a determination is made about the new location. The U.S. flag at the center of the display will remain, and a plaque will be placed on the pedestal at its base recognizing people who sponsored and contributed to the Walk of Flags project over the last nine years.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com