Ottawa Legion, La Salle County Cruisers planning a big Friday night

Flag Day ceremony joins Cruise Night in downtown Ottawa

Aside from the number of stars, our country’s flag hasn’t really changed much since it first sat on Betsy Ross’s lap.

The way it will be honored, however, at this year’s Flag Day ceremony at Washington Square in Ottawa will be slightly different come 6 p.m. Friday, June 14.

Ottawa American Legion Post 33 for the first time will be partnering with the La Salle County Cruisers car club, which also will be conducting its 26th annual Cruise Night on the streets of downtown Ottawa that night.

John Duback said the Legion has traditionally paired with the Ottawa Elks Club in presenting the annual ceremony, which includes the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner,” a history of the flag, featured speakers and a flag retirement service.

Since the Elks were unable to take part, the Legion has joined the Cruisers, who are expecting more than 400 cars to be a part of their show and thousands of spectators from 6 to 10 p.m.

The Cruise Night is sponsored by the Ottawa Special Events Group.

“We’re happy to be with them because, goodness, there are massive amounts of people who come to Cruise Night,” Legion organizer Ron Leiteritz said. “Maybe this is something that we can get things on board for next year and make this a regular thing, but we know everyone’s going to be jacked up about Cruise Night. We’re excited to have so many around for the flag ceremony.”

The Cruisers’ Mike Dougherty said the equipment planned for the Cruise Night’s music, provided by 3-D Sound, will be used for the ceremony in the park, allowing even more people to hear and experience the flag ceremony.

Leiteritz said the ceremony likely will consist of Legion members relating the history of Flag Day. Then, while Legion members execute the 13 folds that go into properly preparing a flag for storage or shipment, the Legion’s Mike Hardin will explain the exact meaning of each fold.

That will be followed by the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

“It’s a pleasure to do something to honor the flag on Flag Day,” said Dougherty, who urged residents to be aware of the detours that will be set up along La Salle and Columbus streets for that evening. “It doesn’t happen all that often that they are matched up on the same night, but it’s an important part of what we do. We have a lot of veterans in our group, and we hold our meetings there at the Legion, so we’re happy to be involved.”

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