Plans for a major celebration of Flag Day on June 14 along the East Dublin-Granville Road corridor are proceeding, but what once seemed like an easily obtainable goal of getting sponsors for 500 flags is proving to be more of a lofty ambition.
George Schmidt, chairman of the Northland Area Business Association's State Route 161 Task Force, acknowledged last week that only about 200 sponsors had been found to pay $30 for a flag to be part of the event.
Regardless of how many sponsors eventually support the project, which is to raise money for the task force's various improvement projects along the corridor, the culmination of the celebration between 5 and 8 p.m. at Columbus Square Shopping Center is going to be heard.
That's because Schmidt has arranged for Jeff and Lorna Duffield, longtime Preston Commons residents, to bring their calliope to the Flag Day celebration.
The Northland High School marching band also will be on hand to play four patriotic songs.
Britannica.com defines a calliope as a "steam-whistle organ with loud, shrill sound audible miles away."
Jeff Duffield has owned two calliopes, including one his father built in Olmsted Falls in 1965. He recalled that his Cub Scout pack made a replica of an old-time riverboat for a July 4 parade, so his father, Myron Duffield, contributed to the float by creating a calliope out of a vacuum cleaner and organ pipes.
The Duffields said their neighbors are grateful they do not often fire it up in their driveway. But the calliope Duffield inherited from his father was fired up a lot when it was owned by Myron and still travels extensively.
It has performed in more than 1,500 parades, festivals and fairs, traveling more than 250,000 miles since 1972, according to Jeff and Lorna Duffield's website, calliopemusiccompany.com.
"What we enjoy most is meeting the people," Jeff Duffield said of the trips he and his wife take with their calliope. "As you drive down the parade route, all the little kids who can barely walk are up and dancing. The grownups, they remember the day when those were in every parade.
"The smiles are the best part for us. That's why we continue to do this."
Meanwhile, Schmidt hopes more people will become flag sponsors by the June 8 deadline.
For more information, go to naba161taskforce.org/sponsor.
The idea for "500 Flags Down the East Dublin-Granville Corridor" came up during a meeting of business owners interested in revitalizing the area, Schmidt said.
"That seemed like it would be pretty easy to do," he said.
Now, he said, he's not certain about next year.
"We'll see how it goes," Schmidt said. "It depends."