Lights, Flags, and Memorial Day Events

Lights, Flags, and Memorial Day Events

Memorial day is within sight, and while we take time off to pay homage to those who’ve given so much for our families and our freedom, it’s a good idea to refresh ourselves on what constitutes proper respect and decorum when displaying the flag of the United States of America.

Flag Lighting

There aren’t really any rules about how a flag should be lit.  The flag code typically requires flags to be raised at dawn and taken down at dusk.  However, provisions are made for flags to be flown 24-hours a day, allowing them to be displayed throughout the night.  The sole requirement for this (aside from requirements for not flying a tattered or damaged flag) involve that the flag be well lit.  Of course ,the best way to light a flag at night is to use an uplight.  Spotlights aimed at the flag, with a bulb color-temperature of at least 3500K are perfect for displaying the flag and keeping it lit throughout the night.  Just be mindful of accidentally lighting other people’s windows in the process.  Use a narrow beam to help mitigate light pollution in your area.

Flag Code Rules

The last thing we want to cover is a reminder to be respectful of the flag.  If you have a flagpole set up, you’re likely aware of the rules of etiquette behind how to treat the flag.  For those who don’t usually fly one, July 4th is a great day to set a flag out.  There are a few less-commonly known rules of respect however:

  • Never dip the flag to any person or thing.
  • The flag should only be flown upside down as a distress signal.
  • The flag should never be used as an advertisement and advertisements should not be attached to the same flagpole.
  • The Flag should never be draped over things – use bunting instead
  • Do not cover speakers, tables, or platforms with the flag
  • Never use the flag for anything that’s disposable. Red, white, and blue napkins or blue napkins with stars are fine, but don’t buy flag napkins or plates.
  • Never add emblems, numbers, or additional designs to the flag.
  • Never use the flag to hold or carry other items.

Bear in mind that this applies to actual versions of the flag.  Representations, red and white stripes or white stars on a blue field are acceptable.

Avoid These Common Mistakes When Hosting Your Event

While we recommend seeking out the help of a professional lighting company for the best effect, if you’ve decided to handle the lighting of your event yourself, here are 5 common mistakes made by first time lighting crews that you need to avoid for a successful event.

  1. Falling in Love with Hardware

Not every fixture that you like is the right fit for your application.  Christmas lights are beautiful, but if the colors are wrong, they’ll clash with the rest of your design.  Likewise, don’t always trust to lights and fixtures you already have.  Just because you have lighting equipment from the part you threw a few months ago does not mean that it’s the best lighting gear for your next event.

If a fixture does not work, or throws off the balance of your lighting design, don’t use it.  Rearrange or reorganize the lights you have, or get a replacement, to maximize how well they work together for your event.

  1. Failure to Test

Always test your lights before the event.  Test each light before you set them up.  That means plugging in spool lights and checking the bulbs, testing sockets, making sure that the outlets and power strips you plan to use work, and turning on each individual fixture.

  1. Not measuring Lengths BEFORE Installation

It’s the simplest mistake around.  Before hanging up any lights, run them out the full length of your display.  Place power strips and extension cords where they’ll be used to be sure that you have sufficient devices for everything.

  1. Power Requirements

All the lights, equipment, planning, and skill will do you zero good if you don’t have the power to handle your lighting.  String lights and specialty fixtures have wattage ratings on them for a reason, because all-to-often people try to place too many lights on the same circuit.  Find out just how much power you have available and plan accordingly.  A few things to watch for:

  • Are you using LED lights or Incandescent?
  • How many outlets are available?
  • Are you using extension cords?
  1. Right Lights, Wrong Gage

This last one is similar to #4, but we feel it should be highlighted because it applies to more than just lighting.  Not all extension cords are designed to handle the same amount of current.

If you’re having trouble with fuses blowing, and you’re certain your lights aren’t taxing the system too heavily, check the gage on your extension cords.  The lower the gage number, the more it can handle while putting less strain on the system.  Most home extension cords are 16 gage, which won’t handle heavy loads easily.  DIYByExample has an excellent guide on extension cord gauge sizes by length of cable.  Reducing the length of the cord will also help to alleviate stress on your system.


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