Phil Waterford loves Manteca’s patriotic backbone.
He sees it the 10 times every year that the 2,500 flags are placed throughout the community – lining both sides of the street out in front of his Main Street business.
And he sees it every year during the Memorial Day weekend celebration at Woodward Park when tens of thousands of people flood into the community to see an event that has grown from a small, quaint community gathering into a regional affair that pays tribute to the fallen in a way previously unseen.
So when he got back from vacation last week and read that the Manteca Chamber of Commerce was conducting a fundraising drive to clean all 2,500 flags and replace those that are torn or tattered and repair the poles that are used to hold them up, he wanted to know what he wanted to do to help.
He wanted to make up the difference between what the chamber had already raised and the nearly $10,000 goal they were shooting for. That amount could up being around $5,000.
“Pastor (Mike) Dillman always talks about how Manteca is the most patriotic city is America, and I concur. This flag stands for everything, and that sort of patriotism means everything,” Waterford said. “I have a 6-year-old son, and we were driving and he asked me about the flags that were lining the streets and I got to tell him about the program that paid for it and explain to him what the stripes mean and what the stars mean and what the flag means.
“That means a lot to me, and I want to do whatever I can to make sure that somebody else can have that same opportunity.”
According to chamber executive director Joann Beattie, just over 1,000 of the flags have already been dry-cleaned, and Perez Cabinets – who initially designed and built the poles – is preparing to do the repair work on the poles that have either cracked over the more than 10 years of being put up, or lost pieces like the knobs that sit atop as they wave proudly to the traffic that passes by.
According to Beattie, having the support of businesses like Waterford’s are what help projects like this one get off the ground.
“We’ve had so many organizations that have agreed to give a little bit here and a little bit there and we’ve had some bigger donations,” Beattie said. “But nobody has called up and said that they wanted to make-up the difference that we’re short. It’s incredible.”
The chamber has created a separate fund at Oak Valley Community Bank next door to their office for donations, and will continue accepting them even though their target has been reached. According to Beattie, the organization hopes to be able to extend the flags further down portion of certain Manteca streets.
For additional information, visit the chamber website at www.manteca.org or call 209.823.6121.