St. Johnsville inspires Dolgeville, Fort Plain groups to launch banner program honoring local military service members

Vehicles travel on bridge with banners on poles

Vehicles moving along in a parade procession on Bridge Street in St. Johnsville on Memorial Day. The new banners paying tribute to local military service members can be seen on light posts lining the right side of the bridge.

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ST. JOHNSVILLE — Passing through Mechanicville to visit her in-laws, Julie Rider Erno was impressed by the sight of military tribute banners last year.

It’s become an increasingly common sight throughout tight-knit communities: local service members honored with paid displays, each detailing respective names, ranks, titles and branches of service.

“It was just so overwhelming … such a feeling of love and community that I said, ‘OK, I’m doing this in St. Johnsville,'” Rider Erno recalled.

Earlier this year, Rider Erno helped establish a banner program in coordination with the American Legion and local officials, hoping sponsors would buy at least 50 banners on Main Street. To date, more than 340 banners have been installed.

“When we reached 100, I’m like, ‘Oh my God,'” Rider Erno said. “And then it was 120, then 150, then 200, then 300 and I kept asking the guys, ‘Do you want to keep going because you’re going to have to put these up when they get here?'”

Each display costs $205, $200 of which pays for expenses to Clifton Park-based designer Impact Productions, and the rest funds a party in celebration of the program.

The banners were originally set to be displayed from Memorial Day to Veterans Day, but coordinators decided in early April to keep them up year-round in order to free up resources for local public works and volunteer fire teams, both of which assisted in providing utility vehicles for installation.

So far, the banner initiative has attracted an enthusiastic following on social media.

“I wanted people coming to St. Johnsville and having that overwhelming feeling like I had when I went through Mechanicville,” Rider Erno said. “I do believe that that is happening because I’m getting so many wonderful comments.”

St. Johnsville’s program inspired two nearby fraternal clubs to take similar action. Mohawk Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3275 in Fort Plain and the Dolgeville Rotary Club launched respective banner programs in mid-May and late April.

“We’re happy that’s going to be happening, so we give it our full blessing,” Dolgeville Mayor Mary Puznowski said.

Program coordinator Sam Licari expects around 250 banners to go up in Dolgeville by mid-July. Applications were put out at Village Hall, Manheim Town Hall, Big M Supermarket and Dawn’s Dawgs pet grooming salon.

Location requests will be considered, Licari said.

“We kind of put the word out informally to contact us if you want a banner in a certain spot,” Licari said. “A lot of people do that.”

Licari plans to avoid placing veterans banners within a quarter-mile stretch of Main Street to keep the space open to banners for high school seniors and for events like the village’s annual three-day Violet Festival in June.

Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.

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