CLINTON —Volunteers placed about 1,800 American flags to line the streets from Zion Lutheran Church to the Riverview Bandshell on Thursday afternoon in preparation for Saturday's funeral service for Clinton Fire Lt. Eric Hosette.
Larry Echhardt, The Flag Man from Little York, Illinois provided the flags, and area residents provided the manpower. Eckhardt addressed about 50 volunteers, many of them students, at Central Fire Station on Thursday.
"These are the flags we're going to be using," Eckhardt said, displaying an American flag given to him in memory of a New York firefighter. "This is in honor of a young man who died at the World Trade Center."
Eckhardt has helped set up 508,000 flags honoring more than 200 men in uniform who died in service.
"This will be my 203rd to honor," Eckhardt said.
Eckhardt doesn't charge for the patriotic displays, his business card says. His services cover 14 states, honoring firefighters, first responders, police and military personnel.
Eckhardt began providing flags for patriotic displays 13 years ago for military personnel, he said, but he now provides flags in honor of the fallen in nearly any uniform.
Members of Clinton Fire Department Honor Guard contacted Eckhardt about putting up flags for the Hosette service, he said.
Volunteers loaded pickup trucks with flags from Eckhardt's trailer in front of Central Fire Station and jumped into the truck beds to ride to their destinations. Adults and students planted the flags about 10 feet apart along the route the hearse will take from Zion Lutheran Church to the Riverview Bandshell.
By the end of the Thursday, flags lined Riverview Drive and surrounded the park.
At Riverview Park, Dustin Krogman, of the Clinton Parks and Recreation Department, cleaned up the bandshell, where public services for Hosette will begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The city will put chairs on the grounds for family, but everyone else will have to stand, Krogman said.
As volunteers planted flags in the ground nearby, Dave Ugarph, owner of Ugarph Siding and Windows, repaired wooden framing on the Riverview Bandshell.
The city will erect barricades to set apart an area for people in uniform, Krogman said. Parking was still being discussed Thursday afternoon, Krogman said. People attending events at Riverview Bandshell normally park on Riverview Drive, at the pool or at Ashford University Field, Krogman said. Priority will be given to vehicles from the many fire departments from Iowa and Illinois that are expected to attend and take part in the service.
The National Weather Service is forecasting patchy drizzle and snow between 3 and 4 p.m. Friday and 2 to 4 inches of snow overnight. Krogman didn't think the snow would affect the memorial service. The city will make sure "everything is cleaned up" as much as possible, he said.
Saturday's high is expected to be 32 degrees with a northeast wind of 7-10 mph and a 90 percent chance of precipitation. The National Weather Service expects Saturday's new snow accumulation to be 1-3 inches.