Car dealership replaces 60-foot-long American flag flown before July 4

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OTTAWA COUNTY, MI – Just in time for July 4, DeNooyer Chevrolet replaced a stolen 30-foot by 60-foot American flag – a landmark at US 31 and East Eighth Street in Holland.

The large flag was taken early Sunday, June 26.

Nicole DeNooyer said no one imagined anyone would fly the flag. It’s heavy and bulky. What would they do with it?

So when a worker called and asked to buy a new flag, she said, “What do you mean?”

Someone cut heavy ropes attached to the 100-foot-tall flag pole, then lowered the flag and carried it across Eighth Street to a vehicle parked behind the Shell gas station.

A few hours later, people started asking about it. Some were upset. They posted on Facebook and called the dealership. Where was the flag?

DeNooyer said the reaction from so many people showed how important the flag was to those in the Dutch region. Many said they were sorry or offered thanks, with some volunteering to start a fundraiser.

“It was an outpouring,” DeNooyer said.

One woman wrote on the dealership’s Facebook page, “It’s a big part of our town and people’s joy to see it passing by.”

Another wrote: “This is the most beautiful flag I have ever seen and I love seeing it when I drive down the highway. The way it ripples with the wind and its beauty as the sun goes down does my heart good, often bringing tears to my eyes.

DeNooyer wanted a flag waving during the holidays. She didn’t know if it was possible. A flag was hoisted Wednesday afternoon.

The late Robert DeNooyer Sr., a U.S. Marine, opened the Chevrolet dealership in Holland in 1953. He hoisted a large American flag when his company moved to the current location in 1965.

He could have been upset by the theft. But he would have been shocked to know how much it meant to others, his granddaughter said.

She and her brother, Dominique, and her father, Robert Sr., own the claim.

Nancy Hassevoort, a receptionist at DeNooyer, said she received a text from a friend asking about the missing flag. She suspected it had been taken apart for repairs, but soon discovered it had been stolen.

Surveillance video showed the theft took place around 2.55 a.m. She found it strange that no one said anything despite the many cars passing by.

“We are very happy to have a flag up and waving, especially ahead of the Fourth,” she said.

“It was pretty cool to see them put the flag back up.”

DeNooyer Chevrolet has a flag service company that takes care of the flag, repairing wear.

The new flag cost $2,850. There’s a safe now to prevent theft. No one had thought of it before. Even if they had, “it’s not an easy flag to fly,” DeNooyer said.

The theft happened just outside the Dutch city limits. Ottawa County Sheriff’s Deputies are investigating. No arrests have been made, Sheriff Captain Jake Sparks said.

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