Lions Club member Sam Brown places a flag.When you see American flags flying in downtown Madras, it’s thanks to the work of the Madras Lions Club.

The group has been putting flags out on patriotic holidays since 1983.

“The Junior Chamber of Commerce had a flag program before us. But their numbers were dwindling and we talked to them to see if it was OK if we took it over,” said Lions member Sam Brown, who has served as chairman and co-chairman of the program over the years.

The club contracts with local merchants to place flags in front of their businesses on six holidays a year for a fee of $25 for one flag, or $37.50 for two flags.

The Lions started out using the Junior Chamber’s flags, which were showing their age, but soon bought their own flags, poles and holders.

“We still have some of the businesses that started with us 30 years ago,” Brown observed, adding, “I think it’s a pretty reasonable charge. We started out charging $20 and have only raised it once in 30 years.”

Early in the morning of a holiday, a crew of 12 Lions members hit the streets, running six routes, each with a two-person team – a driver and a flag setter. Forty-five minutes later, 155 flags have been placed at 108 businesses and the town is decked out in patriotic colors.

The same crew repeats the process at the end of the day to retrieve the flags before dark. The Madras Public Works Department allows the club to store the bulky boxes of flags at one it its maintenance buildings, which members appreciate.

The flags are flown at businesses on President’s Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day. In addition, on Patriot Day and Pearl Harbor Day, a flag display is placed at the North and South Y entrances to Madras, the totem pole park, and the war memorial by city hall.

Individuals can also sponsor a flag, and those are placed at the North and South Ys in their name. For more information on sponsoring a flag, businesses and individuals may contact Brown at 541-475-6203.

Bad weather can change the schedule. “If there’s just a little rain, it’s OK to fly the flags because they are made of nylon. But if there’s heavy rain or strong wind we don’t put them out.”

“But we’ve made a decision that on one holiday, Veterans Day, if it’s raining, we’ll still put the flags out, no matter what,” Brown said.

The three- by five-foot, all weather, nylon flags can take the weather, but the one-inch dowels they are mounted on can snap in strong winds, he said.

These are sturdy, quality flags. “Many of our flags were purchased through our Congressmen and they were flown over the U.S. Capitol. The flags come with a certificate saying they flew over the Capitol and we give those to the businesses using them,” Brown said.

The flag program is the main fundraiser of the year for the Madras Lions Club. “It earns around $3,000 a year and is our main fundraiser so we can help people with eyeglasses, hearing aides and other projects,” Brown said.

“On behalf of the Lions Club, I want to thank all of the businesses that have supported this project. We couldn’t have done it without them,” Brown said.

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