By KAT WALSH
Beaufort just scored a first for the state of South Carolina: the first city to allow a flag to be displayed from a bridge. And we’re not just talking about any bridge; we’re talking about our swing bridge. And we’re not just talking about any flag; we’re talking about a massive 15-foot-by-25-foot United States flag.
While you’ve probably seen the flag hanging from the Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge (how could you miss it?), most don’t know the story of how that flag – a gift to the community from EatStayPlay Beaufort and PickleJuice Productions – got there.
It started over a year ago, when Ginger Wareham of PickleJuice was working with the American Legion and started thinking about how to make Beaufort the most patriotic city in U.S.
“We have such a strong and proud military presence in Beaufort, why shouldn’t we have a giant American flag displayed right here in the heart of our community to honor our American heroes?” Wareham asked. “And to me, somehow that meant we needed that flag hanging from our bridge.”
For the rest of the year, Wareham researched how she could make that vision a reality. She looked at how other cities had been able to display a huge flag from a bridge, but didn’t find much guidance.
Turns out, New York City had made it happen, but hardly any Beaufort-sized cities had the bridge or the ability to follow through on a similar feat.
This year, one week before Flag Day, the effort switched into high gear when Wareham reached out to state representative Shannon Erickson, who was immediately on board.
“Beaufort is one of the most patriotic places in the United States,” Erickson said. “It is only fitting that we salute our nation and her people with the display of our Star-Spangled Banner on our iconic Woods Memorial Bridge.”
“Shannon was able to take my creative vision and turn it into a reality by getting approval at the state level, which has never been done before,” Wareham said.
And in less than one month, that vision is indeed very much a reality.
“We are beyond delighted that so many folks joined the effort to make this happen so quickly for our community,” continued Wareham, as she went through a long list of helpful names – S.C. Department Of Transportation legislative liaison Allen Hutto, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling, Beaufort City Manager Bill Prokop, Beaufort Fire Chief Reece Bertholf, Deputy Fire Chief Tim Ogden, and the local first responders who hung the flag.
Wareham hopes that hanging the American flag from the Woods bridge will become an annual tradition. A testament to community, collaboration and a shared vision to honor our military friends and their families.
“If all goes well logistically this first time, perhaps we can even go bigger next year!”
Photo by Delk Haigler