Bellevue's Avenue of Flags, which almost became a casualty of economic conditions and dwindling donations, will return in force this year.
Once people found out Bellevue had to cancel the annual downtown flag event, they donated $5,950.
“The donations are coming from east to west and big and small,” Bellevue Chamber of Commerce President Jim Ristow said.
That's enough to buy 150 flags, three times as many as officials had hoped.
He said articles this week in the Bellevue Leader and The World-Herald sparked people's interest.
“Our phones haven't stopped ringing,” he said Friday.
The flags are meaningful to many in Bellevue, Ristow said, especially because of the city's large military community.
They generally line downtown Bellevue between the river and Nebraska Highway 370 between May and Veterans Day.
The 150 flags will almost be a record — the most flags that have ever flown on the avenue is 162.
And Ristow said he expects donations to keep rolling in.
Had the donors not come through, this would have been the first time in more than a decade that the chamber couldn't afford to put up the flags.
In 1999, veteran Don Stevens pushed the city and donors to create the Avenue of Flags, and it continued until this year.
Stevens died earlier this year, but once his family found out about the lack of donations, they decided to help.
His son, Jim Stevens, pledged to the chamber that he would solicit enough money to restore 50 flags.
When word got out, donors came through with that much and more. Ron Svoboda, a member of the Disabled American Veterans, persuaded the organization to commit $3,600 — nearly enough for those first 50 flags.
“The response has been overwhelming,” Stevens said.
He said he plans to pick up where his father left off and make sure the avenue survives in the future.
To donate, call the chamber at 402-898-3000.
The flags should be on display by Independence Day, which is also Don Stevens' birthday.
“I'm sure if my dad were much of a dancer, he'd be dancing in heaven,” Jim Stevens said.