As the Victoria Day weekend approaches, many will plant flowers, vegetables, seeds, and even trees. In keeping with this May tradition, the Rotary Club of St. Albert is planting the red and white maple leaf at 596 residences and businesses across the city.
The pop-up of colour is all part of the club’s 2021 flag program, a fundraising initiative first introduced in 2014 as to rally community spirit and celebrate patriotism. This year, rotary members are going one step further.
In past years, the Canadian flags would be scooped up Monday night and stored for the next event. This year, the flags will be pulled off lawns on Monday and replanted on Tuesday in front of Sturgeon Hospital, the St. Albert's RCMP detachment, the three fire halls, and seniors’ residences.
The full-size Canadian flags are mounted with proper poles and metal pegs that easily pop into a lawn. Flags planted for front-line workers will also be accompanied by a sign that reads: “Thank you to our front-line workers!" The special salute will be visible at the intended sites on May 25 and 26.
“Closing in on the final days of the pandemic as a community and recovering from one of the largest fires we’ve ever had, what better way then plant flags in support of front-line workers,” said Mark Dixon, club president.
He said the dedicated service of medical professionals, hospital support staff, firefighters, paramedics, and police officers is exemplary and has raised the bar of respect among communities.
“It’s (flag planting) intended to be a visible reminder to support front-line workers and it gives everyone an opportunity to honk their (horns with) encouragement as they pass by. Our ICU beds are full beyond any capacity we’ve had in the past. It is incredible what these heroes go through on any given day and show up to do it again day after day. It (the flag) shows pride in the front-line work they do, pride in our community, and pride in our country. We’ve been through a lot, but when you compare it with other countries, we have a lot to be grateful for.”
Bill Holtby, St. Albert's former city manager, has subscribed to the flag planting since 2015, the second year the club operated the program.
“The thing I'm most proud of as a Canadian is how inclusive we are, and the strength of our diversity,” said Holtby.
He was equally enthusiastic about the extended flag planting that pays tribute to front-line workers.
“It’s fantastic. As Canadians we are so proud of the public service and what they do to make Canada such a fantastic place. To broaden the program and fit them in fits with the theme of proud Canadians. It’s particularly important with COVID. With first responders and medical care we’ve received, we are so proud of what we have in Canada.”
For an annual $60 subscription, residents can have Canadian flags put on their front lawns for three national holiday weekends: Victoria Day, Canada Day, and Labour Day. Flags are normally planted on Thursday and removed by Tuesday morning. Funds raised from the subscriptions are donated to the St. Albert Food Bank, Stop Abuse in Families Society, and other local charities.
Service before self is the key motto for rotarians, said Dixon. “Front-line workers model it, and it resonates so much with what rotarians do,” he said.
The St. Albert Rotary Club has additional flags in storage for anyone who wishes to subscribe to this year’s salute.
“It’s so easy. It’s patriotic and there’s nothing the subscriber needs to do. And it’s a great fundraiser for us.”
Visit www.stalbertrotaryclub.com for more information.