American flags are safe and sound

AMERICAN FLAGS returned to the Route 53 bridge over the Kankakee River for the Independence Day weekend. The bridge was the site of theft in May, when 26 flags placed by the Moose Riders disappeared overnight. Photo by Eric Fisher.


The flags along the Kankakee River bridge in Wilmington are back... sort of.

The flags were back over the 4th of July holiday. But as the weekend progressed, residents reported that they saw the flags appear on the bridge, only to see them gone again later.

The flags, however, appear to be safe and sound, removed due to weather concerns and not another act of vandalism.

Wilmington Police Chief Joe Mitchell reported on Tuesday that no additional thefts had occurred at the site. Mitchell said the 4th of July flags had been placed on the bridge by the American Legion, but were inadvertently removed by members of the Moose who thought it was simply time to bring them in.

Mitchell said one flag did blow off the bridge in the wind, but was recovered in the river.

Moose Riders chapter for the Wilmington Lodge has been placing the flags during patriotic weekends and events since 2018.

The issue with the flags started on May 29, one day after the members of the Wilmington Moose Lodge Riders had placed the 26 American flags along bridge’s walkway. The Wilmington Police Department was notified that morning that all of the flags had gone missing.

Four flags were initially found in the Kankakee River.

All four of those flags, plus a fifth flag was pulled out of the river over the 4th of July weekend, were all brought to the Moose Riders for proper disposal according to Flag Code.

Within just a few days of the flags going missing in May, the community collected almost $2,000, enough to place an order for new flags.

Which is what prompted concerns when the new flags placed on the bridge for the 4th of July were gone shortly after being placed there. But, Mitchell assures the public, no new thefts have occurred.

The investigation into the initial theft of the flags remains active. Anyone with information on the missing flags can contact the Wilmington Police Department at 815-476-2811.