Nearly 600 American flags flying in Ridgefield: ‘There’s a lot of pride in town’

From left, Ridgefield Rotary Club members Jim Finklea and Mike Anderson worked together to install American flags in front of Ridgefield homes and businesses this spring as part of the club's annual Fly the Colors program.

From left, Ridgefield Rotary Club members Jim Finklea and Mike Anderson worked together to install American flags in front of Ridgefield homes and businesses this spring as part of the club's annual Fly the Colors program.

Bill Wyman

RIDGEFIELD — From Memorial Day through Veterans Day each year, those walking or driving around town likely will spot American flags flying freely outside of homes and businesses.

Those flags are part of the Ridgefield Rotary Club’s annual Fly the Colors program.

Securing nearly 600 subscribers for this year’s program, the Rotary Club raised $20,000 to donate in support of veteran programs.

Ridgefield Rotary Club Communications Chair Bill Wyman said the local club, which was founded in 1941, has been organizing the Fly the Colors program since 2013.

After one of the club’s members spotted a community in Ohio participating in the program, Wyman said the Rotary Club was inspired to organize a program that offered to install American flags outside Ridgefield homes and businesses for a fee.

The fee is $80 for the first year, and then $40 a year on a subscription basis. Once subscribers place their flag order, Wyman said the Rotary Club buys the flags and flagpoles, drills the holes in the ground for the flag poles and installs the flags. Subscribers are asked where they’d prefer to have the flags installed, and Rotary Club volunteers work to install them, whether it’s in their garden, aligned with their front door or placed on either side of their driveway.

It takes about a month-and-a-half to install all the flags, Wyman said, adding all the work is done by volunteers. After Veterans Day, Rotary Club members will pick up the flags, store them and replace any damaged flags.

Each year, the Ridgefield Rotary Club donates the proceeds from the Fly the Colors program to support veterans programs or The Center for Empowerment and Education — formerly known as The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury.

In the past, proceeds generated through the program have been donated to support the Homes for Heroes program in Bridgeport, Ridgefield marines and their family members, and the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans at UConn’s School of Business.

Proceeds from this year’s program, went to support UConn School of Business’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans, a program he said the Rotary Club has supported for the last seven years. The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans is designed to offer “cutting edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with disabilities resulting from their service to our country,” according to the program’s website.

Ridgefield Rotary Club

The Rotary Club operates under the motto “Service Above Self.” The Ridgefield club has 42 members - the majority of which are town residents - that meet every Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Keeler Tavern Museum at 152 Main St.

Those interested in joining the club are welcome to attend a meeting or contact the club through its website, www.ridgefieldrotary.com.

“We do everything within the town to help local communities, local organizations, do well,” Wyman said.

Among the club’s local efforts, Wyman said they constantly raise money to support nonprofits. He added the club also works on international projects, such as sponsoring a water system for an organization in Cambodia or sponsoring the installation of a septic system for two schools in Africa.

“One of the things we are noted for is the eradication of polio,” Wyman said.

The Ridgefield Rotary Club started the campaign to eradicate polio in 1968, working with the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and raising over $2 billion, he said

“Until last (month), polio was only in two countries — Pakistan and Afghanistan — and it just showed up in New York due to the sewer system,” Wyman said.

‘People are just proud’

Since its initial year, Wyman said the Fly the Colors program has gained more participants with every passing year.

“I think people are just proud — they like to see the flags flying and that has always been a strong point of Ridgefield,” he said. “There’s a lot of pride in town and they love to see it. When we went into COVID-19, we asked to please put the flags up earlier than ever to get community support and feeling that not everything is going poorly in the world. I think that year we started in March.”