By Charlotte Yakovleff
It was a cool afternoon back in the summer of 2009 when Bill Day entered the Weathertite Barn (now Wayside) and flicked on the lights. At that very moment up the street, Kevin Roney looked out his door and smiled happily because he knew if the lights were on someone was there, so he grabbed his jacket and headed over. As Kevin walked into The Barn, Bill greeted him with a drink and a question “What can I do to give back to Andes?” Kevin replied “The town could use some American flags.” And so it began: Stars & Stripes. At first it was just a few flags on the telephone poles, but over time Bill took Kevin’s idea to the next level with Hometown Hero banners, the first three honoring Kevin Roney, Robert Cole, and Kip Holmes.
For the past 12 years Stars & Stripes has continued to uphold its mission. However, it has morphed into an all volunteer year-long operation. As you drive through town you might not really notice them, but banners are hung from Spring to late Fall. During the Summer flower baskets are added, and in Winter snowflakes are put up. This is all done by the devoted individuals of Stars & Stripes. As their big fundraiser, originally held in May but currently in late Summer, they have their annual chicken barbeque and raffle. This year was even more memorable as we honored not only our hometown heroes but we also paid homage to those lost 20 years ago in the 9/11 attacks.
Starting early in the morning Mickey Weaver, Dwayne Finkle and Kenny Bauer got ready for a long day as they prepared the chicken and pork behind The Hotel.
Dorothy McArdle, Jeff Tubbs and Lisa Marasa could be seen placing donated baskets and cans along the rock wall for the silent auction. Other volunteers hung decorations and set the stage for The Roadhouse Rockers who would be jamming all night long. By 4 pm everything was in place. Laurie Day, Ryan Abbate, Beth Little and the rest of the crew were ready to serve food as people started to trickle in and buy dinner tickets. At nightfall it was a packed house and folks gathered around in anticipation as Robert Abbate announced who had won what in the auction. To close out the evening a shower of pyrotechnics could be seen and heard miles away. Amid the background Bill Day was relishing in the moment, for the Stars & Stripes event was indeed a success in raising the much needed funds for new flags, banners (over 40) and other ornamentation which will be carefully placed throughout town. You might not know this, but the location of the banners are done with purpose as either a request from the family or near something that was memorable for that person. So while you wander up and down the streets of Andes be sure to take notice of them and perhaps ask yourself the same question that started it all back in 2009. If you feel a calling to volunteer for Stars & Stripes reach out to Bill Day at 845-676-4912…he can definitely use your help.
As summer 2021 comes to a close, please reflect on the many events that our hamlet was afforded that 2020 did not allow. Be thankful for these opportunities, the people that make them happen and let us embrace these moments in the years to come.~