Two Orange County residents are working hard to make their communities a little more red, white and blue.
In his townhouse community of Fullerton, Roger Repoz has helped create a floating avenue of American flags, riding over 40 for his neighbors in recent months.
And, JC Cortez spends a few months out of the year making sure the communities around his home, Orange, Villa Park, and Tustin, are also ready.
The two men – separately – have worked to bring Old Glory to more friends and residents, especially those who can’t do the installation without help.
Cortez, who has been helping others hang flags since 2018, said he has notched about 70 installations over the years, focusing on veterans, the elderly and residents with disabilities.
“I do this for a couple of reasons, just for the fact that I can help someone put up a flag that they’ve always wanted,” Cortez said. “And I have the opportunity to meet these people and talk to them and, in a way, become friends with them. It is more than sufficient there.
Repoz said he enjoyed sitting outside his house with friends and admiring the rows of patriotic colors he helped create. The 80-year-old former Major League Baseball player – including seasons with the Angels – said his visitors were often in awe of the sight.
“I can look from my garage, where I sit outside all the time, and look straight ahead on the street, and I could count 42 flags that I have hung up,” Repoz said.
With the help of a friend, Repoz started reaching out to his neighbors about six months ago, asking those who didn’t already have the stars and stripes in front of their house if they liked the look. Many are Korean, he said, so the friend, who is also Korean, first helped knock and talk.
“I asked him to ask the question, ‘Do you like what you see?’ And they said yes, ”Repoz said.
The neighbors provided the funds and Repoz bought the supplies from Lowe’s. He would come back and set up the flag, climb his three-step ladder and bolt the mount to his neighbors’ homes, sometimes with the help of friends, he said.
He is happy with the number of flags he has helped bring to his street, although a few neighbors have refused his help, he said. “I’m happy where it is right now, and it’s like I can have a few more to hang on, that would be like icing on the cake.”
For Cortez, the effort seemed like a way to spread some positivity. After raising the flag – and a solar light to illuminate it at night – Cortez said he got to know the recipients and liked to include a short bio and photo of them on his Facebook group, Flags Over Orange / Villa Park / Tustin. The page has more than 400 members and scrolls of photos of smiling residents posed in front of their homes.
“I love our country, I love our flag, I love the people who live there,” Cortez said. “I feel like there’s a lot of negativity in this world, and that’s kind of my way of neutralizing that a bit.”
As his efforts have grown over the years, the father of six, ages 2-18, said he tries to limit work to a few months a year, usually stopping before the Memorial Day. But after a large donation from Home Depot and more funds from Elk’s Lodge, of which he is a member, he was able to purchase supplies this year that will likely last until July, he said.
“This year I really have more flags than I think I can hang,” Cortez said. “Here we always hang flags. “
People are always grateful, he said, but “it really doesn’t matter.”
Orange resident Susie Bartlett helped her parents connect with Cortez in May after seeing a post of him on a community Facebook group. Cortez helped the couple replace “a very old, old, old flag” that they would hang up for the holidays and remove at night, Bartlett said.
Her parents were proud of their service – her father is a World War II veteran and her mother a junior nurse – and they praised Cortez’s work, she said. For Bartlett, whose mother died on Tuesday, June 8, she said the flag was a special gift for the couple.
Chris Hiser, another Orange resident, contacted Cortez on Facebook last year when she heard about the work he was doing. In the elderly mobile home park where she lives, Cortez came and put up eight flags, she said, including one for herself.
Hiser, who used to place a garden stake under the American flag in her yard during the Patriotic holidays, said she couldn’t afford or put up a full-size one herself.
“I always wanted a flag, I live alone and I am disabled,” she said. “It meant so much to be able to get one, to have someone to give me one.”