Enid AM AMBUCS installed hundreds of American flags Thursday morning as part of a “dry run” for its flag project on on the north railroad overpass on Van Buren.
The flags, purchased and maintained via sponsorships, will remain a few days on the Veterans Memorial Bridge to make sure the placement is such that there are no obstructions or traffic or pedestrian problems caused by the project, said Kip Miles, project coordinator for the AMBUCS effort.
The project naming the bridge — which spans the BNSF Railway yard — in honor of veterans and to decorate it with American flags was born of an already-existing Enid AM AMBUCS project that places another 300 flags in downtown Enid in front of sponsoring businesses and along the Van Buren and Garriott corridors on holidays and for community parades and other events.
Miles said during an interview in 2019 that when he heard the overpass was being reconstructed, it seemed a natural fit to extend the flag program to the new bridge.
“I have just really been proud of how the city looks when those flags are out,” Miles said, “so when they announced they were going to redo the bridge, I got to thinking of how good the city would look with those flags on the bridge.”
When the flag project officially is underway, around 200 American flags will fly along the bridge on holidays and special occasions, thanks to the Enid AM AMBUCS and its sponsors.
ODOT began replacing the high-traffic bridge in fall 2018 and recently completed all but some finishing touches, Miles said he’s been told by ODOT, including lighting and some ADA work.
Miles said ODOT will schedule a dedication for the bridge, and the AM AMBUCS flag project will be a part of that celebration. He did not know when that might be accomplished but said he hopes it will be by Memorial Day.
Members placed the flags at 6:30 a.m. Thursday and will leave them up for “a few days,” Miles said. Currently the bridge is not lit for this dry run, but members said it will be when the project is declared finished by ODOT so that will not be a problem in the future.
“We’re just checking our work,” Miles said.
In addition to the American flags, there are flags for branches of the military — Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy — a POW flag and a flag created by AMBUCS for the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base, which did not have one before. Those flags are on the south side of the overpass.
Originally AMBUCS planned to place flags along the fence that spans the walkway across the bridge, but a change in ODOT plans for that section left no room, Miles said. Overall, he said, ODOT has been great to work with and they look forward to the dedication ceremony that will officially end the bridge construction and kick off the flag project.
AMBUCS sells one-year sponsorship subscriptions for $65, which covers the bracket, placement and pickup of the flags on holidays and special occasions and upkeep of the flags and brackets.
Any business or individual interested in purchasing a subscription to sponsor a flag on Veterans Memorial Bridge can call John Parton at (580) 402-2550. Any excess funds will go to the AMBUCS AmTryke program, which provides mobility devices to disabled children and veterans.