PAXTON — As the national anthem is performed prior to Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School’s homecoming football game on Friday, Sept. 27, a gigantic American flag will be carried onto Zimmerman Field, giving spectators a preview of the huge patriotic symbol they can expect to see flown atop a 150-foot flagpole to be built next year just north of the football field.
Dozens of people — including local firefighters, other emergency personnel and members of the Panther Regiment marching band — will be carrying the 30-by-60-foot flag, which was purchased for $1,400 recently by the committee overseeing the Paxton Grand Old Flag project.
Paxton Fire Chief Denny Kingren, a member of the committee, said the same flag was carried onto the field at Iroquois West High School in Gilman earlier in the month, prior the PBL Panthers’ football game there.
“All of us who were carrying it had an extreme great feeling from it,” Kingren said. “I suppose when it’s flying in the air, it may not look as massive as it does down on the ground by your face ... but it was quite an honor to carry it onto the field, for what it represents.”
The 1,800-square-foot flag that was purchased recently will not be the first to be flown atop the massive flagpole once it gets built and put to use starting on Flag Day in June 2020, Kingren said. Instead, the first flag will be one donated by the American Legion Prairie Post 150 in Paxton.
The Legion post’s commander, Tim Hess, said the organization recently pledged the funds to buy it.
“We just felt it was our place, as one of the veterans’ organizations in Paxton, to purchase the first flag to be flown,” Hess said. “So we’re donating the monies to purchase that first flag.”
Kingren said that while it won’t be the first flag flown, the flag that will be carried onto the PBL Panthers’ home field prior to their game against Momence will, at some point, be seen high in the air in Paxton.
Kingren, whose idea it was to bring the huge flagpole to the Ford County seat, said he hopes it will make Paxton stand out along the heavily traveled Interstate 57 corridor, while bringing pride to the community.
“I think people will take pride in it,” Kingren said. “I think the kids in the town will love it, and I just think it will be a very neat thing for the future of our community.”
As of Wednesday, about $30,000 in donations toward the purchase of the flagpole and its first several flags had been either raised or pledged, according to Cody Kietzman, a member of the Paxton Grand Old Flag committee.
The $30,000 total includes $22,000 already donated, plus $5,000 pledged by a local business and $1,000 each pledged by three individuals, Kietzman said.
Kingren said the goal is to raise a total of $65,000. However, if $75,000 to $80,000 were raised, it would reduce the need for further fundraising to buy replacement flags and perform regular maintenance on the flagpole, Kingren noted.
As part of fundraising efforts, up to 1,000 4-by-8-inch bricks are being sold for $100 apiece, as well as some 8-by-8-inch bricks for $250 each. The bricks — which can be engraved with the names of family members or friends, for example — will line a walkway leading to the flagpole, as well as a memorial-type structure to be built around it.
The bricks are available for purchase through thatsmybrick.com/paxtonflag or by filling out an order form and dropping it off at or mailing it to The Frederick Community Bank, 106 N. Market St., Paxton, IL 60957.
Persons who are not interested in purchasing a brick but who still would like to contribute toward the project can do so by sending a donation to the bank, as well. The account is under the name of the nonprofit organization Paxton PRIDE to allow the donations to be tax-deductible. To donate, checks may be written to “Paxton PRIDE” with “Grand Old Flag” or simply “Flag” listed in the memo line.
For more information on the project, people can contact Kingren at 217-202-6398 or Kietzman at 217-379-2336.