Oh, say, can you see by the giant neon flag?

Old Glory aglow over Harford farm

July 04, 2006|By MARY GAIL HARE | MARY GAIL HARE,SUN REPORTER

Neon banner lights Harford sky On a holiday marked by firecrackers, parades and backyard barbecues, David and Nancy Rose sought a unique way to mark the occasion - Old Glory rendered in neon high above their Harford County farm.

They built an 8-foot-by-16-foot version of the U.S. flag with neon lights, framed in aluminum and mounted on a radio tower. The creation might be a bit gaudy, but the whole point was to inspire a little sentiment, David Rose said.

"Maybe it will get people thinking about all the people we have in military service who are not here to enjoy the Fourth of July," he said.

The Roses raised their flag Saturday and plan to turn the lights on every night this month - or at least as long as they can afford it.

"It might be shut off when we get our July electric bill," Nancy Rose said.

The flag glows high above a cornfield, visible for about a half-mile in all directions. If any motorists have honked in approval, the Roses' farmhouse is too far off the road for them to hear. But they have not fielded any complaints about late-night glare from nearby farms.

Maybe that's because several neighbors played a role in the project and helped keep construction costs down. One put together the aluminum frame and another arranged for his employer - Triangle Signs in Halethorpe - to install the lights at minimal cost.

Red and white neon tubes form the stripes, while the star field is composed of light bulbs behind transparent star-shaped cutouts against a navy blue background.

The Roses hoisted the frame 100 feet up on an unused CB radio tower. Now that all the farmhands use cell phones, there's not much use for the tower, he said.

"The project really is all his doing," Nancy Rose said of her husband's handiwork. "We have had a star for Christmas and we knew there had to be a way to do a flag."

David Rose, who grows grain and raises cattle on the 173-acre farm in Shawsville, had acquired experience with lighting by way of annual holiday decorating. The post-Thanksgiving hanging of a Christmas star on the tower helped him master the technique for mounting cumbersome objects on a metal pole. That creation - metal tubing wrapped with golden lights - glows through New Year's Day. At least for the flag hoisting, he didn't have to hang out in the cold weather.

Once he had a sturdy frame, the flag was as good as hung, he said.

He attached taut cables to stabilize the frame and used an electric winch to hoist the contraption up the tower. The lights are timed to switch on at dusk and go off about 2 a.m.

The flag just might put Shawsville, a hamlet near White Hall, on the map, the Roses said.

"We are really stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to identify us," Nancy Rose said.

David Rose added, "But a flag - it's patriotic, and we need patriotism right now."

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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