Under cover of darkness, Boy Scouts and football players crept through a Rotterdam neighborhood Wednesday evening.
At the end of every driveway they planted an American flag. The flags would be waiting to greet residents when they woke up on the Fourth of July.
To many in the Highbridge neighborhood, it was a surprise. The tradition began just last year, and only a small section of Highbridge got flags.
This time, all 800 properties in the neighborhood got a flag.
It was a sight to see.
Roslyn Warlik of the Highbridge Civic Association helped organize volunteers this year after being stunned by the visual message of the flags last year.
“They were all waving. I said, ‘Oh my God.’ I got chills,” she said.
Highbridge neighborhood resident Kim Corbitt started the delivery last year, but with just her husband and sons to help in a driving rain, they covered only about a third of the neighborhood.
This time, Boy Scouts from Troop 357 volunteered to walk the miles of roadway. Corbitt’s husband also recruited flag-planters from the Mohonasen football team, which he coaches.
To Corbitt’s surprise, more than 30 people showed up at 10 p.m. for the secret project. They placed flags at every resident’s driveway in just 90 minutes.
The tradition began in Atlanta, where Kim Corbitt’s real estate group used to pay workers to place flags in large subdivisions on the Fourth of July. When Corbitt moved to Rotterdam eight years ago, she kept saying she wanted to organize a similar show of patriotism here.
“I remember the way we felt when we woke up and looked outside,” she said. “It was perfect. There was an awe. It just felt like the Fourth of July.”
Finally, last year, she decided to start delivering the flags herself. She rationalized it as a marketing expense: she puts her name and phone number on each flag, along with the message, “Happy Fourth of July!”
Last year, working alone, her family managed to put out 300 flags.
“But people loved it,” she said. “I got emails and phone calls. It’s definitely worth it.”