DRUMRIGHT — Veterans of VFW Post 1118 in Cushing and members of the Honor Guard from American Legion Post 108 in Cushing assisted in a flag-raising ceremony Thursday morning.
Not just any flag-raising: a giant 30-by-50-foot American flag was unfurled on a new 100-foot white flagpole in Cleo Hutchison Centennial Memorial Park in Drumright.
The park is near Federal and Cimarron Streets, two blocks south of SH 33 in downtown Drumright.
The park was dedicated on Memorial Day in honor of Hutchison, a longtime Drumright resident, former mayor and local businessman who died in 2001. He opened a grocery store here in 1946 and operated it more than 60 years.
Hutchison was the town's mayor for 22 years. He served in the Marine Corps during World War II.
The idea for a park and new flagpole came less than five months ago when the town's old water tower was torn down. A city employee suggested a flagpole be placed on the vacant lot.
Greg Roberts, president-elect of the Drumright Chamber of Commerce, said city leaders liked the idea of a large flagpole and flag, but the anticipated costs for the project prevented them from actively pursuing it.
The town's acting city manager, Danny Cooper, decided to try to raise cash from residents, organizations in the community, and area businesses to fund the project. Roberts remembers the city manager's enthusiasm as he went through the town talking to business owners and seeking support.
Roberts said sufficient funds and materials for the project were collected in just more than a month after Cooper began the campaign for the flagpole.
Magellan Oil and Keystone Gas donated large sections of pipe for the pole. Another store donated fittings. A local electrician donated and installed three lights with 1500 watt bulbs that will illuminate Old Glory so it can be properly displayed on the pole night and day, year round, Roberts said. Many citizens and store owners donated cash. Southwest Petroleum and Swiena Well Service also made donations.
Drumright Fire Chief Wade Guyer, who participated in the flag raising, said the town was “100 percent behind the project.”
After Cooper had secured al the materials and funding for the town's newest project, he now had to decide where to put it.
Lifelong Drumright resident Sandy Hutchison Perry said she and her sister, Janie Hutchison Nickles, were approached by Cooper about donating some of her family's land near the location where the old water tower once stood. The women, daughters of Cleo Hutchison, were excited about donating eight lots for the park where the flagpole would be erected.
The new flag can be seen from many vantages in the hilly town of 3,000 people. It is on the second-highest spot in Drumright Fire Chief Guyer explained. He said the city's new water tower was built on the highest point.