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Pride doesn't flag at project's end

A business group bought 50 flags that lined Dale Mabry from Nov. 11, 2001 to May 11. Now the donors will put them up in offices and schools.

By TIM GRANT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002


CARROLLWOOD -- To the strains of Bruce Springsteen's Born In the USA, business managers were given the American flags they had purchased for N Dale Mabry Highway.

Members of the Carrollwood Area Business Association held an outdoor party Wednesday to celebrate the 50 flags that hung from utility poles following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The flags were removed earlier this month when their permit expired. Jim Kalemeris was one of several donors who claimed his flag at the late afternoon CABA mixer.

"I will proudly display my flag at my office with a sincere feeling of patriotism and appreciation for this country," said Kalemeris, who owns a construction company and is a veteran of two wars.

Dozens of miniature flags decorated the courtyard at the Village Center shopping plaza.

But the highlight of the event was a short speech by Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley.

"Hundreds of thousands of people got to see and enjoy what you did every day," said Quigley, who is director of public relations at MacDill Air Force Base Central Command. "On behalf of my boss Tommy Franks, thank you for going above and beyond."

CABA raised $4,000 to pay for the 50 two-sided vinyl flags. Mounted on utility poles, they lined Dale Mabry from Linebaugh to Bearss avenues from Nov. 11, 2001 to May 11.

Joann Constantino, a manager at Bay Gulf Credit Union, said her company bought three flags. She said Bay Gulf Credit Union will donate one each to Gaither, Sickles and Chamberlain High schools.

"We want to give back to the community that supports us with memberships and services," Constantino said.

For CABA, the flag party was a grand finale to what some say was its most successful community project.

"We made it happen," said Dawn Hudson, CABA administrator. "We are just so proud to give the flags back to the contributors who made this possible."

Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman also took pride in the event. Norman said his office worked with CABA to get DOT approval to hang the flags along N Dale Mabry Highway.

It was the first time a flag, banner or any decoration has been permitted on the Tampa Electric Co. poles that line Dale Mabry Highway.

"It's a show of American pride by the northwest community taking this initiative to show our patriotism," Norman said. "It lifts our spirits to drive to work every day with American flags lining the highway."

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-- Tim Grant can be reached at 269-5311 or at grant@sptimes.com.

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