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THE NEW WAVE IN FLAGPOLES

Monday is Flag Day, and the Fourth of July is only three weeks away. What better time to look at what's new in flagpoles?

"We've got a lot of patriotic people around here," said Daniel Acevedo of Unicorn Enterprises in New Port Richey, which sells flags and flagpoles.

He and other retailers say their customers include young and old; Canadians who want to fly their own flag and the American flag; and people who want to display the POW/MIA flag.

As for all those retired military people living in southeastern Hillsborough, Pat Hill, office manager at ABC Flag and Pennant in Tampa, put it this way: "Sun City people are very, very patriotic."

From a distance, flagpoles may all look alike. But take a closer look at the different kinds and the people who fly the flag from them.

In Sun City Center, A. J. and Rose Everett fly their flag from a telescoping pole. The aluminum pole consists of three or four sections that extend or retract when a spring-loaded button is pressed. The sections pull out easily. The flag clips onto two rings. The pole is available in heights of 16 and 20 feet. It can be collapsed into the bottom section, standing just under 5 feet high, or the entire pole can be lifted out of the ground (a 20-foot pole weighs 16{ pounds) when bad weather approaches or when homeowners are away.

"It's a good deal for the homeowner," said Everett, who retired as a lieutenant colonel with Army intelligence and later was in the Foreign Service. "You can take it with you."

Everett "grew up with the military," he said. He was born while his father was serving in France in World War I; later his father was a high school military instructor in Indianapolis. Everett served two tours of duty in Europe with the Army; Rose Everett was a secretary with the Foreign Service when the couple met.

The telescoping pole is sold through mail and phone orders from Holiday Enterprises Unlimited Inc. in New Port Richey, (813) 842-2530 or (800) 749-8652. The 16-footer is $225, the 20-footer is $259, plus tax and shipping, and comes with a top ornament, flag and plastic support sleeve.

When Betty Pinkerton moved to New Port Richey four years ago, "the first thing I did" was have a flagpole installed _ "in honor of your father," she told her son, Keith.

Bernard Pinkerton, a Navy veteran of World War II, died on Memorial Day 1987. His father received a Purple Heart in World War I, and a brother died at Iwo Jima.

"He was so patriotic," Mrs. Pinkerton said recently of her late husband as she sat on the terrace outside her home, where her flagpole overlooks a tidal pond fed by a tributary of the Pithlachascotee River.

She has a 20-foot aluminum model called a "Homesteader." The four sections snap together like the sections of a vacuum cleaner hose. They stand in an 18-inch plastic sleeve embedded in concrete. The entire flagpole is light enough that it can be lifted out of the ground and disassembled when bad weather approaches. (Tip: Lower the flag first so it doesn't catch the wind while you're holding the pole.) Daniel Acevedo of Unicorn Enterprises sells a 20-footer for $109 plus a $35 installation fee. It comes with plastic clips to hold the flag to the rope so neighbors aren't annoyed by the constant clanging of metal clips.

Mrs. Pinkerton said she raises and lowers the flag nearly every day in honor of her husband. She's proud that her flag once flew over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Her husband is buried in the veterans cemetery at Bay Pines, where "there's a place reserved for me," she said. "He will be forever missed."

At the 102-unit Braemoor Village in Dunedin, "we just decided we ought to get patriotic," said Maxine Hurley, a member of the community's beautification committee. So shortly before Memorial Day, residents had a permanent, one-piece flagpole installed, a 25-footer made of brushed aluminum.

The American flag will be flown 24 hours a day outside the clubhouse. It was formally dedicated to the community in a ceremony May 31, Ms. Hurley said.

Braemoor Village bought the pole _ it's called an "estate pole" _ from Vet's Discount Flag Services in Clearwater. It comes in 15-, 20- and 25-foot lengths and tapers from 3 inches in diameter at the base to 2 inches at the top.

It will last a long time, said Bill Willis of Vet's, although, "You may have to change the rope every once in a while." He charges $239 for the 15-foot pole, $269 for the 20-foot pole, $299 for the 25-footer. Installation is an additional $40 or $50 depending on length.

Some advice:

If you install the flagpole yourself, don't set an aluminum pole directly into concrete, flagpole sellers caution. The concrete creates a chemical reaction that will corrode the pole. Instead, set it in a plastic sleeve. Flagpoles may come with a thin-walled sleeve of plastic piping. Some sellers recommend replacing it with a piece of thick PVC piping, usually set 18 inches to 3 feet into the ground. The sleeve also allows the pole a little "give" in the wind so it doesn't snap off.

Check with your homeowners association or city or county to see whether there are height restrictions on flagpoles.

FLYING THE FLAG

American flags can be purchased at home centers, discount stores and flag and flagpole stores. Specialty flag shops are good sources for other flags.

To obtain a flag that has flown over the U.S. Capitol, contact the local office of your U.S. representative or senator. Some have the flags for sale at their local offices; others provide an order blank you can send to the representative's or senator's office in Washington. Some offices will arrange for a flag to be flown on a special day or in honor of a particular person; others don't provide this service. A 3-by-5-foot nylon flag from a representative's office costs $6.76; from a senator's office, it's $7.50. The prices differ because flag producers make separate bids to the House and the Senate, said Ann Hamilton of Sen. Connie Mack's office in Tampa. Flags also are available in 4-by-6-foot and 5-by-8-foot sizes, and in cotton as well as nylon, for slightly higher prices. The flags come with a certificate of authenticity attesting to the date they flew over the Capitol.

The Times sells flags at the front counters of its offices in Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Hillsborough counties. The flag kit includes a 3-by-5-foot flag, a 6-foot pole that snaps into three sections for storage, mounting accessories and instructions, for $8.50.

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