We had discussed it a couple times at committee meetings but I was still a little surprised when the troop finally decided to hand out small United States flags along the parade route in town this year. Our troop had not done anything for a parade for twenty years or more.
The flags were small plastic flags bought from an online retailer. Our charter sponsor, the VFW, agreed to pay for the purchase of the flags which came to nearly $100.00 for almost a thousand flags. The Boy Scouts would walk the parade route, a block or two ahead of the honor guard, and hand them out to the people along the route.
We thought this would be a great public relations project. The Boy Scouts would be in uniform and show their patriotism by giving away flags. We would be seen by thousands of people sitting along the streets, giving us some much needed exposure, something the troop does not receive for cleaning road ditches, holding paper drives, and working early morning park clean-up projects.
I arrived at the high school, the starting point of the parade, about an hour before things would begin. Two Boy Scouts were already present, with a third one arriving a short time later. And that was it. Only three of the nine members of the troop decided to join us for this project. At least that left us two people per side of the street. I would be riding my gas powered scooter which had a basket to hold the thousand flags. The Scouts would be walking.
We really did not know how soon we should leave before the parade started so we began when the honor guard began lining up at the head of the parade. Unfortunately, the honor guard caught up to us after only four or five blocks, and soon the parade was passing by us. Since we had to hand out the flags person to person it slowed us down and took much longer than we first thought.
The crowd loved the flags. We began by handing them out to kids but they were so popular that teenagers and adults wanted them also. We ran out of flags with a third of the route left to go.
So, we learned two things about this project. First, we need to leave about 15 minutes ahead of the parade in order to have a chance of staying ahead of them. Second, we will need to order about 1500 or 2000 flags for the next time.