Downtown merchants dressed up their display windows, facades and light poles with Old Glory and patriotic decorations in celebration of Flag Day and other holidays later this summer.
On Wednesday, June 14, the public is welcome to a Flag Day party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the courtyard of Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market at 11 S. Sixth Ave. The festivities include speakers and music.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation establishing Flag Day. Congressional legislation designating June 14 as Flag Day was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman in 1949.
“We are so excited because this is the first time since I have been downtown in 23 years that we are decorating it in red, white and blue and celebrating American patriotism,” said Margo Susco, co-owner of Hydra Clothing Boutique at 145 E. Congress St.
Susco is a member of the Downtown Merchants Special Events Committee that organized the three-month celebrations and are displaying 150 American flags and patriotic decor on downtown streets. Flags for the Flagless, a nonprofit organization that provides flags to schools, homeowners, groups and businesses, donated the flags to the merchants.
“These festivities are also special in honoring active duty and veterans,” said Susco, an honorary squadron commander for the 305th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, which recently deployed to support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Steven Pike, co-owner of A Perfect Pantry at 41 S. Sixth Ave., is a Vietnam War veteran who served tours in 1968 and 1969. He was drafted into the Army at age 21.
“I appreciate, honor and respect the flag,” said Pike of Flag Day and upcoming downtown tributes to veterans. “Celebrating those in the military and veterans makes me proud.”
“There were a lot of soldiers who did not come home from Vietnam. I saw buddies die,” recalled Pike, 70, who was wounded by shrapnel in firefights and also was injured by booby traps. He was among soldiers who helped build up the 9th Infantry Division after the Battle of the Plain of Reeds. His service earned him more than half a dozen Bronze Stars and medals of valor.
In addition to Flag Day, said Susco, the merchants “want to plan special events and observe historical dates and decorate for the holidays from now on, and bring Tucsonans and visitors back to downtown and make it the hub that it was decades ago.
“We want people to feel the downtown neighborhood, which was where people always went to celebrate events. Downtown was always decorated,” said Susco.
“We have the momentum going now, and we are not going to stop,” she said, mentioning that businesses will offer specials and sales during the summer celebrations.
Other events being celebrated by the merchants with support from the Downtown Tucson Partnership include the Fourth of July, a tribute July 27 to honor veterans of the Korean War, Tucson’s birthday festivities Aug. 21, Labor Day and Second Saturdays in July and August.
For more information on events, go to www.downtowntucson.org
Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4104. On Twitter: @cduartestar