Flag soars over fast food restaurant, old bridge
Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 13, 2015
Driving through Vicksburg on I-20 it’s hard to miss the giant flag flying over the Kentucky Fried Chicken just off the interstate at 3144 Indiana Ave. Some people even use it as a marker when giving directions.
“It’s very pretty, especially when the winds blowing,” owner Robert Rials said.
A flag has soared over the KFC since 1979 when the franchise belonged to Bobby Hannon, a Korean War Veteran. Rials, Hannon’s son-in-law, has taken over the business.
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“He enjoyed flying that flag, and we do too because we get a lot of positive comments,” Rials said. “People come off the interstate and say, ‘Oh I love your flag.’”
Rials said the flag costs between $650 and $700 to replace, and he tries to keep a spare on hand in his warehouse. The weather takes its toll on the 20-foot by 30-foot flags that have to be replaced every 6 months because of rips. They aren’t sure how much the flag weighs, but it takes two men change it out.
He is proud to be able to donate the flag for use at the Old Depot Museum, for school programs and the Fourth of July fireworks show downtown.
Rials isn’t sure if the flag draws in more customers, but he does enjoy the positive comments they make on the flag’s beauty.
“We’re just proud to be Americans and we support the troops, and that’s why we want the flag flying everyday,” Robert’s son Miller Rials said.
“It’s been there since I was born.”
Another flag known around town is the one on the Old Hwy. 80 bridge that was started by Blanche Millsaps in 1994. During that first flag raising in April 1994, traffic was closed on the bridge while a dedication service was held.
Millsaps fell ill in 2010, and was fearful that her flag project would not continue. Lewis Decell, a Member of the Army-Navy Club of Vicksburg, met with Millsaps to discuss the possibility of letting the Army-Navy Club continue her dream.
As a result, in Septtember 2010 the Army-Navy Club raised their first flag. Millsaps died on June 2, 2011 after 17 years of ensuring that a 20-foot-by 30-foot flag was flying 196 feet over the bridge.
To help keep the flag flying over the bridge tax-deductible contributions — “from a dollar to a whole flag” — can be made to the Army-Navy Club of Vicksburg. For more information contact Lewis Decell at 601-529-1455.