Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir

Oakridge pride is reflected in holiday display of flags along First Street

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Flags fly along First Street compliments of UBRA George Custer photo

By GEORGE CUSTER/The Herald  —  The tradition of posting the flags along First Street in Oakridge on national holidays go back to around 2009. The idea came about when it was discovered that there were already flagpole holes along the sidewalks of 1st Street.

Several members of the Uptown Business & Revitalization Association (UBRA) began asking around with some of the older Oakridge residents about the history behind the holes. It was learned that there was once an active Junior Chamber of Commerce in Oakridge that put out American flags on holidays and some special events.

The Oakridge Jaycees

The Jaycees, as they were known, weren’t just active, they were a VERY active group. “Hellraisers” was one term to describe their organization’s antics by one longtime resident.  A search for records on the group and where the previous flags had been stored, came up short. A fire in the Jaycees’ building was thought to maybe be the cause for the disappearance of the flags.

The Uptown Business & Revitalization Association voted on, and approved, the purchase 0f forty American flags and poles. It was stipulated that the flags being purchased were to be made in American.

A survey was done to determine the desired locations for the flags to be placed along First Street between Beech and Cedar. It was decided that there were more holes needed to complete the desired look.

Moving the project forward

UBRA took their project up the chain-of-command to City Hall. The City Administrator liked the idea and approved UBRA to drill more holes. About a day-and-a-half of drilling in the concrete sidewalks completed the task.

UBRA’s volunteers have been showing up regularly, usually at eight a.m. on holiday mornings. They put the rolled-up flags into a vehicle or two that drives slowly along the sides of the street, stopping only briefly to let a volunteer grab a couple of flags. The reverse usually happens around five in the afternoon. UBRA has only lost a few flags so far in thirteen years.

Come rain or shine, mostly

There have been only a couple of times that the flags have not gone out over the years. A hard freeze after a rain will prevent the flagpoles from going into the holes. Also, deep snow can keep the holes from being found. Otherwise, the flags will always grace the Uptown along First Street on appropriate holidays.

Ron Freborg, the previous manager of the now closed branch of Sterling Bank of Oakridge, was the idea man behind this tradition. He was also one of the original Board of Directors members for UBRA. Ron and his wife Teiri now live in Dallas, OR. They both have numerous friends here and make the trip to Oakridge often.

If you’re driving through the Uptown along First Street on a national holiday early in the morning, give a honk or a wave to the volunteers.




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