THE BIG IDEA
- The Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee
- Committee met in November 2016 to brainstorm ideas for Canada 150 that would help support tourism in Halton Hills. “Put Halton Hills on the map”.
- A committee member, Cheryl Cardon, suggested challenging the residents of Halton Hills to fly a flag for July 1 and this idea caught the imagination of the committee, and as it turns out, the people who live in Halton Hills who embraced it beyond our wildest dreams.
- Research was conducted to see if any other town in Canada had attempted a similar challenge and it was discovered that Thorold, Ontario had a short tradition of flying flags, and had flown just under 10,000 flags in 2016 and had named itself the Most Patriotic City in Canada.
- A Canada 150 committee was struck to execute the challenge. Cheryl Cardon, president of circus strategic communications inc. was named chair and Ann Lawlor, Halton Hills Town Councillor was named vice chair.
- Doug Penrice, Halton Hills Economic Development Officer
- Laurent Thibault, Canada 150 Ambassador
- Doug Rapien, Stone Edge Bed & Breakfast Owner
- Dianne Penrice, Realtor
- Kathleen Dills, Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce
- Amy Sykes, Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce
- Sheena Switzer, Acton BIA
- Finn Poulstrap, Realtor Poulstrup
- Jane Brass, Terra Cotta Cookies
- Jake Hazzard, Chamber of Commerce summer student
- Amy Jenkins & Denita Scoleri, circus strategic communications inc.
Cheryl Cardon volunteered the pro bono services of her marketing company to design the logo, website and promotional materials.
The Challenge was funded with local business sponsorships. Doug Penrice and Laurent Thibault, assisted by other committee members, raised over $30,000. This money helped cover costs for the purchase/assembly of 15,000 Canadian Garden Flags. Sales of the garden flags enabled the committee to purchase 8,000 additional flags to meet demand.
The Town was petitioned for funding from its Canada 150 grant budget for Canadian flag street banners and permanent flag installations in major public parks. Over $23,000 was granted to the project by the Town of Halton Hills.
To encourage participation by Halton Hills residents, the committee decided to provide Canadian Flags (garden flags) at the very affordable price of $2.00 each. In order to accomplish this, 9” x 18” flags and 36” dowels were purchased separately and then assembled by local community groups and organizations. Ann Lawlor organized the “assembly teams” and Doug Rapien, managed the assembly process primarily on the premises of his business, Stone Edge Estate Bed & Breakfast 13951 Ninth Line, Georgetown.
- Challenge was launched April 28 at the At Home in the Hills – The Halton Community Spring Show.
- Our goal was to have 15,000 flags flying on July 1, 2017 and win the right to claim the self-appointed title of Canada’s Most Patriotic town.
- There is a Guinness Record for most national flags flying on one day by a US town. Waterloo, New York flew 25,898 flags in 2000.
- The Town was petitioned to providing funding for street banners and two permanent flag poles. This was approved.
- Flag banners were installed along major thoroughfares.
- Permanent flag poles were installed at two community parks
- The Town offered several community centres and the Town Hall, supported by staff, as distribution centres for garden flags.
- Mayor Rick Bonnette and Councillor Bob Inglis, joined by other members of council, the committee and sponsors, raised the first flag – a flag that once hung on the Peace Tower in Ottawa (courtesy of Bob Inglis)
The Business Community
- Local businesses and politicians were approached to support the Challenge through a multi-level Sponsorship opportunity. (spearheaded by Doug Penrice & Laurent Thibault) Over $30,000 was raised in a very short time through the sponsorship program. The businesses were quick to support this patriotic initiative.
Community groups got on board early by volunteering to assemble the Garden Flags. Hundreds of hours were dedicated to the assembly of 23,000 garden flags by the following groups:
- CFUW Georgetown
- Lydia Snow North Halton Retired Women Teachers
- Silver-Wood Women’s Institute
- Cultural Round Table
The original target of assembling 15,000 garden flags was surpassed. Based on the demand and funding raised, the committee made the decision to increase the number of flags purchased by 8,000.
The people of Halton Hills took up the Challenge with unbridled patriotic pride!
- Whole streets were sponsored by individuals and businesses.
- Houses were bedecked with Canadian Flags ranging from the garden flags to permanent flag installations.
- Driveways and fences were lined with flags.
- Schools handed out flags to their students or had students create their own flags to put in their windows.
- Businesses added flags to their establishments with many sporting multiple flags.
- Canadian flags are in very short supply in retail outlets in Halton Hills
ADVERTISING & MARKETING
A Challenge logo was developed that communicated community pride and the challenge.
- An easy to use interactive website was developed by circus strategic communications to capture flag registrations and provide information about the Challenge
- the website tracked flag registrations in real time by postal codes encouraging people to visit frequently to see our progress towards the goal of 15,000 flags.
- Emails were gathered during the flag registration process. This provided a line of communication regarding the challenge, flag distribution locations, registration updates, special events and more!
- Press releases were sent to local media approximately every 2 weeks to provide updates on the Challenge. Both local newspapers, the Acton Tanner and Georgetown Independent Free Press ran stories about the challenge almost weekly.
- Both papers published a Canadian flag in their papers that could be cut out and showcased in home businesses. Flags posted in home windows could also be registered.
- Local magazine “Sideroads” highlighted the Challenge.
- As we exceeded our goal we have begun to distribute information about the Challenge outside of Halton Hills and hope to be picked up by regional and national media.
- A Town Crier, proclaiming at the June 19 Town Council meeting, entreated all good residents to fly the flag and celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial. He will return to Acton’s Canada Day celebrations to make a final proclamation regarding Halton Hills as Canada’s Most Patriotic Town.
100 lawn signs were installed throughout Halton Hills with the message “Fly the Flag July 1.
News and updates were posted on Chamber of Commerce social media sites, their website and digital newsletters. Hashtags included: #Canada150 #HaltonHills
The flag distribution strategy was Ann’s responsibility and involved:
- bulk/volume sales of flags to businesses and individuals and service clubs that wished to sponsor whole streets, parks or apartments, or schools!
- Dianne Penrice took the lead on the street sponsorship program.
- sales to the general public through local distribution centres
- pop up distribution at community events such as the At Home in the Hills – The Halton Community Spring Show, local concerts and a popular annual book sale
- securing promotional support from local retailers in the sale of full sized flags
- displaying Canadian flags on street lamp banners throughout the community
Community Distribution Centres managed thousands of flags for the challenge, providing display space and collecting funds. The success of the campaign depended a great deal on the enthusiasm of the staff who handled all the flags. (Starting in June, student Jake Hazzard assumed responsibility for stocking the distribution centres with flags, and the production teams struggled to keep up with demand!)
- Georgetown and Acton Public Libraries
- Town of Halton Hills community centres and the Town Hall
- Acton BIA
- Chamber of Commerce office
- 2 private businesses that just had to get involved!
- Farmers’ Market (4 Saturdays in June)
The flag production and assembly was Doug Rapien’s responsibility and involved:
- Assembly of the Canadian Flags (garden flags).
- The 9” x 18” flags and 36” dowels were purchased separately, in order to achieve a reasonable cost price and then assembled by local community groups and organizations.
- Doug managed the assembly process primarily on the premises of his business, Stone Edge Estate Bed & Breakfast 13951 Ninth Line, Georgetown.
- Canadian flag banner hardware is installed on close to 150 streetlamps throughout Halton Hills.
- Two new flagpoles have been installed in major public parks.
- The net proceeds of the Challenge will fund several Canada 150 Legacy projects
- Other Ideas – based on funds raised- will be used to promote Tourism in Halton Hills
We plan on building on the success of this year by encouraging residents to save their Garden Flags and put them out again next year. Details are still being finalized.