FAIRBORN, Ohio (WDTN) – This could be the last year for one of Fairborn’s Fourth of July parade staples. The man behind the flags given out along the parade route is retiring.
Each Fourth of July, 10,000 flags get loaded into Ron Estepp’s truck, then handed out along Fairborn’s Fourth of July parade route.
“The most I’ve probably handed out is about 8,500, consistent six or 7000 each year,” Estepp said.
Estepp owns Ron Estepp Continuous Gutters in Fairborn. He said he started giving out the flags to honor the military families in the community.
“Fairborn here is a military town and we used to have, and we still do throw out candy, and I just wanted something a little different, so we came up with the flag idea,” Estepp said. “It’s been going on for 20 years.”
Estepp said he gets a 15 minute head start along the route on parade day so spectators have them in hand for the start of the parade.
However, Estepp said this will be his last year. He’s decided to retire from the parade.
“Our reasoning was I’m getting tired,” Estepp said. “Takes a lot of preparation to do this, not to mention the cost of the flags.”
Estepp purchases the flags from The Flag Company in Georgia, which manufactures its flags in the U.S. He said the preparation for the parade begins in the winter months, and each year he spends around $5,000 to purchase the flags.
Parade organizers said it won’t be the same without seeing Estepp’s flags lining the route.
“It’s because it’s really a patriotic tribute and enhances the parade,” Fairborn Fourth of July Committee Publicity Chair Fred Pumroy said. “He deserves recognition, and I know all of the people who come to the parade appreciate it.”
Over the last 20 years, Estepp said even the community has been a part of handing out the flags.
“We have had friends, family, I’ve had girl softball teams associated with my granddaughter,” Estepp said. “This year, my grandson and probably about least half of the football team is going to be handing out the flags with us this year.”
Pumroy said the parade committee is hopeful someone will take up the flag by handing out flags in Estepp’s place next year.
Fairborn’s Fourth of July parade kicks off at 10 a.m. on Monday.