Thursday, December 25, 2014

Flagging Report: Flagging on Christmas Eve

I wasn't expecting the brick sidewalk in front of the old Escambia County Courthouse to be very busy Wednesday, December 24. I suspected last-minute shoppers would be few because that part of downtown doesn't have a lot of retail outlets. It's mostly restaurants, offices, and government complexes. The old Courthouse is part of a maze of county offices that take up almost an entire city block.

Top: Old Courthouse, Palafox Place at Government Street, looking north. Bottom: Flagging sidewalk, looking South
Well, I was in for a surprise. Foot traffic was pretty brisk, and almost everyone -- men and women (and a few kids) in a variety of sizes, ages and colors -- was friendly and cordial. A few folks looked preoccupied, as people sometimes do during a holiday rush, but nobody was hostile.
Visitor Flagger -- likes friendly Pensacola

I was joined by a visitor, an experienced flagger, from out of town (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Captain Kirk!) and he was impressed by the friendliness of the people. 

As we were setting up -- tying a Third National onto his flag pole and attaching a First National to my walker, we were assisted by a tall, dreadlocked passerby from New York who asked if we were part of a Christmas parade. Unfortunately, no. That event had occurred about two weeks earlier.

Shortly before that, almost immediately upon our arrival on the sidewalk, we were greeted by a young teenage boy and a man, perhaps his father, distributing Christmas cards.  It set a favorable tone for the entire experience.
Card distributed by well-wishers on Christmas Eve
 (At home, I made photos of the card for  this report. Inside, a hand-written message says, "Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year ... Your Christmas cheer makes people smile!" This treasure will be going into a West Florida Flagger scrapbook, sure enough.)

Throughout our almost two hours on the sidewalk, most everyone responded very positively to our greeting, "Merry Christmas!" and nearly all repeated it back to us with a big smile.

A history buff from California stopped to chat with us about the flags of the Confederacy. He knew about the county's recent vote to remove the historic flags from the civic center's flag display and lamented the censoring of history.

There were many horn-toots, waves and thumbs up from passing motorists. Judging by these actions, it was logical to conclude that a lot of area residents know about -- and are not happy with -- the county's vote. Similar sentiments have shown up on the Internet, in social media, and a petition to commissioners to return the flags.

First National snapping in the breeze. New banner -- Return the Flags!
Three times the Santa-hatted, silver-haired driver a of trolley for Seville Quarter stopped momentarily in the middle of the street to shout words of encouragement to us and declare his support (in a definite New York accent). Traffic behind him waited patiently, perhaps assuming passengers were getting on or off.

Trolley driver for Seville Quarter shouts encouragement and agreement!
All in all, it was a much better day of flagging than my first experience four days earlier. I'm looking forward to doing most flagging in front of the county's complex, which houses the board of commissioners' offices.   
  Connie Chastain        
      West Florida Flaggers        

Courthouse images: Google
All other photos: C.Ward