(OSCEOLA, IA – JULY 2, 2021) Just in time for Independence Day, the team at Lakeside Hotel Casino in Osceola, Iowa set out to repair their damaged flagpole – once, a truly patriotic landmark for the south central Iowa community. With a lot of hard work, some local support and a weather-delayed second try, Thursday morning at 10:45 AM, they saw Old Glory’s stars and stripes wave at commuters rolling up and down Interstate 35 for the first time in more than a year.

Watch the full video of the new flag launch below!

During a record-setting ice storm that hit in March of 2020, the iconic flag that sat atop the northeast corner of Lakeside’s grounds fell due to ice pack and winds in excess of 45 miles per hour. The stress not only tore the flag from its mounts, but also broke internal cables and counterweights that held the flag in the air. Osceola police, the volunteer fire department along with community patriots, and veterans from around Clarke County rushed out, in the middle of the storm, to help pick up the fallen flag and its debris, making sure that it was properly handled.

Raising a new flag, though, posed a unique challenge. The ice and winds from the storm created severe damage, and to replace the 150’ pole was out of the question. So, the Lakeside team reached out to the professionals at US Flag & Flagpole Supply out of Plano, Texas for replacement parts as well as a new, bigger American flag.

“We wanted to do more than just replace {the flag},” said Liane Crawford-Smith, Lakeside’s Marketing Director. “So we ordered a brand new, 30’ x 60’ flag – one of the largest American Flags in the State of Iowa – to fly over our community.”

Todd Ross from RaisingFreedom.org arrived on site to install the new flag on its 150’ mount Tuesday evening. However, by mid-morning on Wednesday, he realized there was going to be more to challenge him than raising the massive 1,800 sq. ft. flag. Paint dust caked the pole above the 40’ mark and was causing his climbing gear to slip with every attempt. Out of an abundance of caution, Ross backed down and a new plan to get up the pole was made.

Check out a gallery of photos from the restoration project.

“We knew exactly who to call,” said Lakeside Facilities Manager, Jeremiah Johnson. “The same community-minded heroes who helped out the night of the storm.”

With just a few calls, the Osceola Volunteer Fire Department and Clarke County Emergency Management were on site and prepared to hoist Ross past the challenging section of the pole. So once again, the cables were set and the cherry picker from Osceola’s Ladder 39 lifted Ross an additional 40’ – about 75’ up the 150’ pole – to a safer section to continue his ascent. Then it started to rain.

“That’s just a little delay in our grand adventure,” said Ross as he climbed down from the basket in the pouring rain. “Tomorrow’s a new day and forecasts are looking good.”

After 7 hours of trying and with hopes of a better opportunity, the ascent was postponed to the next day.

Thursday morning was certainly a different story. With sunshine and 78 degrees with a light breeze, the Lakeside team, Todd Ross, as well as the Osceola Volunteer Fire Department and Clarke County Emergency Management, gathered on the lot for a second try. With all hands, the ladder truck hoisted Ross to midway on the pole and he effortlessly scaled to the top.

Once there, cords that had been broken were replaced, strung down the inside of the 150’ pole and secured beneath the 40” ball at the top. Ross even repainted the gold finish on the ball that had dulled from years of severe Iowa weather. Within the hour, his feet were back on solid ground and the mechanisms for raising the flag were repaired and waiting to lift Old Glory back into the air.

“It really does say something about our community and our volunteers,” said Johnson. “Some of the same guys who came out on the night of the storm were helping get the flag back in the air today. That’s just incredible.”

After 485 days of absence, the flagpole over the Lakeside Hotel Casino grounds holds the red white and blue once again. With a new, massive 30’ x 60’ flag, those driving along I-35 and in and out of the community are welcomed with pride and honor. All in time for July 4th celebrations planned for this weekend.

Next time you are out, take a short drive by Lakeside and look at Old Glory. It took a lot of time, a lot of caring and a dedicated community to bring it back.

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