TAOS, Mo. — The year 2021 marks the 15th year for an annual patriotic tradition in the Taos area.
DeWayne Sprenger's family sets out hundreds of American flags next to mailboxes in advance of Independence Day each year.
"It started as an idea of giving back to the community," DeWayne said. "After the first year or two, people in town would stop and say, 'Hey, thanks for the flag,' so we continued doing it."
They started with 300 flags their first year, and this year they'll have put out 800, said Kimberley Sprenger, DeWayne's wife. They go from one end of town to the other and into subdivisions such as Stoney Gap as well as a few spots toward Osage City.
"We haven't expanded into Wardsville yet, but if we do, that will take another 800 flags and more manpower," DeWayne said while laughing.
Along with DeWayne and Kimberley, the current flag crew includes son Quinton and daughter Delaney.
"I've had a couple of my nieces help, and my parents and some of their friends helped, too," DeWayne said.
"If (Quinton and Delaney's) friends were spending the night at our house during flag week, they got drug along," Kimberley said.
She said the most grateful people are those at the senior center.
"As we put the flags out, they come out and talk with us," Kimberley said. "Last week, a gentleman who had lost his legs came out in his wheelchair."
"He hollered from his door, 'Hey, can I get a flag up here?" So I ran one up to him, and he was grateful," DeWayne said.
The family orders the flags in March, and they usually start putting flags out the weekend before Fourth of July week, Kimberley said.
"This year was a little harder because of all the rain we've had, but that has made it easier to get the flags in the ground," she said. "Some years it's been so dry that the kids would have to take a drill to put hole in the ground to put the flag in."
DeWayne and Kimberley said the plan is to keep doing this as long as they're alive.
"It may come down to someday sitting in a parking lot and have people come by and pick one up," DeWayne said.
"It's a commitment that our family made," Kimberley said.