Drivers on one of the busiest sections of Interstate 35 in the metro are being greeted with a prominent Veterans Day display courtesy of the Boy Scouts and the owner of Merriam Town Center.
Ranks and ranks of full-size American flags have been planted along the east embankment, 725 in all, by Boy Scout Troop 584. It’s the fifth consecutive year the slope has been decked out with the patriotic celebration.
Bret Boziak, Scoutmaster for the troop, said 15 scouts and adult volunteers worked about six hours last week to erect the flags. They were paid $2,500 by DDR, the owner of Merriam Town Center, for their labor. The project is a fundraiser to support trips to Scout camp.
Brandon Glenn, a spokesman for DDR, said the project is the result of a great relationship the property management team at the shopping center have forged with Troop 584. The troop is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 7100 Hadley St. in Overland Park.
“DDR is proud to sponsor this Veterans Day gesture to honor the selflessness of our country’s military veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much to defend our freedom,” Glenn said. “We remain forever grateful.
“We’d also like to thank Boy Scout Troop 584 for their efforts and assistance in helping DDR show our appreciation for our veterans’ service.”
Boziak said the flags are rented from the Merriam Community Center Foundation at a cost of $500, netting the Scouts $2,000 for their fundraiser. Merriam uses the flags for its Flags of Freedom display on the Fourth of July.
Merriam Councilmember Nancy Hupp said the flags originally were purchased for a Fourth of July display in downtown Merriam about 10 years ago, and later made available to the Scouts. She said residents look forward to the annual display along I-35.
“The city exploded with excitement at seeing that hillside covered with flags,” she said. “It’s a mass of flags that are strategically placed to give it a snap.”
And the Veterans Day display gets a lot of eyeballs.
More than 150,000 vehicles pass through that stretch of I-35 daily, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation, making it one of the busier sections in the area.
Boziak said the flags will be taken down this weekend.