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Volunteers raise flags, paint the town

Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Juneau resident Michael Orelove is in his third year of raising flags downtown - 50 of them - as a sign of spring and of welcome to tourists, entertainment for locals and, well, just because flags are fun.

Orelove belongs to Friends of the Flags, whose members use a cherrypicker donated by Tyler Rentals to hoist all the state banners on Egan Drive's lightpoles between the Douglas Bridge and Marine Park.

"It's for locals, too," Orelove said. "After all, most of us locals came from someplace else."

Orelove is happy to raise the Illinois state flag - he originates from Chicago - which features a white background and a state seal (not the animal ) that features an eagle.

 

A cherrypicker hoists Jim Akins, left, and Michael Orelove to the top of a downtown lightpole to attach one of 50 state flags. The three are members of Friends of the Flags, a volunteer organization that works to ready Juneau for both visitors and local residents.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF MICHAEL ORELOVE

The Alaska flag does not receive preferential treatment, he said, and is somewhere near the bridge. And the flags are in no particular order. But since so many are on a field of blue, those so colored are spread around, he said.

Residents who aren't quite sure which flag is which and who would like to know have only to look at the base of the pole to see the state's two-letter post-office abbreviation.

Sticklers for detail will know that Georgia's flag recently changed - the Confederate battle emblem has been removed from it - and that the Friends of the Flags pennant for Georgia has not.

"We still have the old one flying and next year we'll have the new one," Orelove said.

The group also has about 30 extra flags - worn but still serviceable - that are available to the public gratis by calling him at 586 3034, Orelove said.

Orelove and his 18-year-old niece Eden are also responsible for the Community Sundial painted on the sidewalk between the Fishermen's Memorial and the tram building off S. Franklin Street.

Numbered circles designate the time. Visitors are asked to step into various parts of the center, depending on the time of year, and to watch their shadows tell the time - when there are shadows.

Orelove has established a rite that calls for local volunteer groups and schools to paint in the numbers. Friends of the Flags painted in the number 7, Orelove said, because it resembles a flag.



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