Rambler Newspapers

Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Great Flag Caper Continues to Brighten Irving

Photo provided by Nell Anne Hunt

Irving—Anyone driving around Irving near the 4th of July has probably seen small American flags lining the streets. These flags originate from the Great Flag Caper, an endeavor now in its 29th year, that spreads a positive, patriotic message of unity across the city.

Nell Anne Hunt is the driving force behind this grassroots project.

“It was just a kind of a happenstance thing,” Hunt said. “I moved into my neighborhood in University Hills, and everybody was real nice, so on the 4th of July I decided I would buy a couple hundred flags and put a flag in everybody’s front yard.

“Everybody liked it so much, the next year I bought 400. At that point, other people came to me and said ‘We want our neighborhood to look like this on the 4th,’ so the next year we did their neighborhood. People were coming from Dallas like for Christmas lights. Then, the whole city decided they wanted to do it, so now we do the whole city.”

Irving resident Iris Dillon was born in Ireland before becoming an American citizen. She figured putting out flags was one small way she could express her gratitude for all this country means to her.

“Almost 20 years [I’ve been doing this]. I do the section from Rock Island to Hunter Ferrell,” Dillon said. “I work 1,200 flags and have at least 24 people and their crews that volunteer to put this out. They each get a section of 100 flags. I’ve got people that have been doing it for years with me. They really enjoy it. It brings the families together, gets them out and gets the holiday started.”

The Great Flag Caper had 300 volunteers and put out over 40,000 flags this year. Since distributing flags is socially distanced, the caper went as planned in 2020.

The longest stretch of road that gets flags is the 10.5-mile stretch of MacArthur Boulevard between the borders of Coppell and Grand Prairie. The road is unique, because it passes through every neighborhood, which makes it a great spot to focus on.

“Everybody’s on it everyday and that’s our sign of unity. All you can see is beautiful American flags,” Hunt said. “There’s no north Irving or south Irving, it’s just one great American city.”

While the caper has continued amid the pandemic, one event which has been cancelled the past two years has been the potluck dinner at Hunt’s home after all flags have been distributed.

In previous years, she would host the volunteers at a gathering where everyone would bring their favorite dish and enjoy one another’s company. Even though this event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021, Hunt looks forward to its return in 2022.

“I miss it so very much. Surely by next year we can have it,” Hunt said. “We call it our Patriotic Potluck. Everybody brings a dish, we sing patriotic songs and give out prizes for who’s put out the most flags. We enjoy being with each other and catching up after a year.”

In a time when the U.S. is so sharply divided, Hunt feels the simple, patriotic message of unity, that we are all Americans, is one which cannot be emphasized enough.

“It really is something very special for the times that we’re in. Every family wants the best, a safe neighborhood, a good job and good schools for their children,” Hunt said. “We all want the same things. Under the flag, we’re all the same.

“We’re so fortunate to be in this country. It really is incumbent on each of us to bring out the positive aspects of this country, concentrate on those and concentrate on the time we have left on this Earth to make it better.”

Dillon could not agree more.

“I was not a U.S. citizen until 2000. Once I became a citizen, I was really proud to be in the USA,” she said. “It’s just really nice that people live for their country.”