Wave that flag


About a year ago, Philadelphia’s City Council challenged its constituents to commemorate the history and symbolism of the American flag by displaying 10,000 “stars and stripes” throughout the city. The Mayfair Civic Association is trying its best to do its part.

Neighborhood volunteers recently installed about 60 American flags on utility poles along Rowland Avenue between Frankford Avenue and Rhawn Street, a project made possible by the monetary donations of dozens of local residents and business people. The civic group raised more than $1,500 via the GoFundMe website to buy the flags and hardware to hang them, just in time for Independence Day.

“The city passed a resolution for ten thousand American flags and that spurred us,” said MCA Treasurer Jim Ortlieb, the project coordinator. “It was about community and patriotism and to make Mayfair look nicer when you’re driving.”

“I think the most important thing to mention is that the project was funded entirely by the citizens of Mayfair through donations,” MCA President Donny Smith said, “not through tax dollars. As a result, everyone can feel that sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that they were a part of making Mayfair a great place to visit and an awesome place to live.”

Ortlieb created the GoFundMe page last November. In eight months, there were 58 donations, most of which were $50 or less and many as little as $10. Businesses took part, too. Home Depot in Somerton’s Leo Mall afforded the civic group a discount on the flags. James A. McCafferty Funeral Home made a major monetary donation, while other business donors included Torresdale Flower, First Class Pharmacy and Sheffield Tavern.

Ortlieb, his brother Bill, Jim’s son Drew, Smith, Pat Callahan and Joe DeFelice worked on the project from the conceptual phase to installation. The civic group hopes to install more flags later this year on nearby stretches of Ryan and Lexington avenues.

Other community groups have followed suit, namely the Somerton Civic Association, which accepted a major donation and has ordered flags to install along Bustleton Avenue. According to Ortlieb, several neighbors have also contacted Mayfair Civic about organizing their own single block-scale flag installations. ••

Stars and stripes: (From left) Drew and Jim Ortlieb and Donny Smith stand in front of American flags they helped install on utility poles along Rowland Avenue between Frankford Avenue and Rhawn Street. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO