The crossing flags seen up and down East Madison Street popped up a decade ago, a project of the now disbanded Historic Madison Park group.
Residents Reg Newbeck and Ken Myrabo took up the flags in 2010, and last year was the first time resident support covered the full cost of maintaining the community service.
When they took over the project, there were buckets of flags between 43rd Avenue East and East McGilvra Boulevard, Newbeck said. The flags can now be found all the way down to 32nd Avenue East.
“We just saw the need,” said Myrabo about keeping the crossing flags going. “We saw too many near misses.”
A company in Rhode Island manufactures the neon-colored flags, and Myrabo and Newbeck make the containers.
“These are all knee-high for the kids and the disabled,” Myrabo said.
Thick plastic pipe is purchased in 10-foot sections, cut down and capped at one end to make the flag holders. Holes are drilled in the sides, where zipties are used to secure the flag holders on street signs next to the intersections.
There is the occasional need for a replacement.
“We’ve had cars run into the buckets over the years,” said Myrabo, who is also a former Madison Park Community Council president.
Madison Park Veterinary, Queen Anne Painting and Brier Creek Gardens funded a replacement of all 99 flags in May 2017, but about 60 were lost last summer to theft and destruction, Newbeck said. Community support funded their replacement.
Myrabo and Newbeck said they are very grateful for the support from residents in making the flags a success.
The Madison Park KeyBank began supporting the crossing flags project a year ago, Newbeck said, collecting donations for a dedicated fund. People just need to mention the Madison Park Crossing Flags.
Myrabo and Newbeck take turns walking East Madison every day — weather permitting — to reposition the flags. Summertime, when children are out of school, usually results in a spike in flags going missing or being vandalized, Newbeck said, but they currently have a decent supply of replacements.
“We have people sticking them into the ground, pounding them into the ground,” Newbeck said, adding sometimes a flag gets hissed to the side or ends up on a bus.
Anyone who finds a misplaced or vandalized flag can contact them through a public or private message on Nextdoor.
Newbeck said they’ve been contacted by people from other communities interested in setting up a crossing flags project. Madison Valley has its own, and sometimes their flags get mixed up, he said.
While the Madison Park Times was interviewing Myrabo and Newbeck at the corner of East Madison and McGilvra, a woman crossed the street with a baby stroller and flag in hand.
“It feels much better crossing the street with a baby,” she told them. “Thank you, it really does help.”