PROVO (ABC4) – While the stadium lights will be shining brightly on the gridiron at LaVell Edwards Stadium for the BYU-Utah game on Saturday, another light, set to illuminate an enormous American flag flying proudly over Rock Canyon* is sure to catch plenty of attention.
According to Kyle Fox, who is coordinating the flag’s flight as a part of his non-profit, Follow the Flag, the light he’s using is one of the brightest on earth, with an output of 800 million foot candles. Fox is hoping the light will make the 30-foot wide by 60-foot tall flag visible throughout the entire valley.
“It’ll be hard to miss, especially after dark,” Fox tells ABC4.com.
Nothing but the best for Old Glory, especially on the 20th anniversary of the devastating terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
While the upcoming feat may sound ambitious, Fox has made larger-than-life achievements and displays seem routine and realistic for years. If the expression ‘go big or go home’ holds true, you might say Fox has never been home.
The flag to be flown this weekend in Utah County isn’t even the biggest one he’s ever put on display. Fox and Follow the Flag have done a number of enormous flights all over the state. In 2015, he flew his first 60’x30’ flag for the first time in Grove Creek Canyon for the Fourth of July. Two years later, he took it to another level by flying a massive 150’x78’ flag, believed to be the largest free-flying American flag ever displayed.
Since the first flight in 2015, Fox has taken his giant red, white, and blue flags all over the country. Interestingly, the initial unfurling wasn’t even a sanctioned one.
“July 4th came around in 2015 and we just pulled it off,” he recalls. “We didn’t get any permission or permit approvals, we just went and did it and it turned into something a whole lot more.”
Constructing these gigantic patriotic displays, which can weigh up to 400 pounds, can be a tall order. Fox says he’s been fortunate enough to work with one of the best flag companies in the country which happens to be located in Sandy, Colonial Flag.
Colonial’s CEO, Paul Swenson, says it’s been a pleasure working with Fox, who he calls a “visionary.”
It isn’t easy putting the vision into reality, however. According to Swenson, building one of Fox’s flags can take a team of four full-time workers two weeks. Colonial regularly does large-scale flags which are purchased by NFL teams for their pre-game anthems, but Fox’s is different and more challenging due to the fact that’s not broken into sections and is intended to be flown on a wire.
“The most complicated part is doing the stars,” Swenson explains. “You have to realize that these stars are like four feet tall.”
Working on sewing machines that are much, much smaller than their intended use can be an arduous process for Colonial’s employees. However, when the first giant Stars and Stripes was being built, Swenson and Fox both invited local war hero Gail Halversen, known as “The Candy Bomber,” to put the finishing touches on the first huge star.
Things like that, which make flying the star-spangled banner even more special, have endeared Swenson even more to Fox.
“He does it for all the right reasons,” Swenson gushes. “I love Kyle, he’s a great guy.”
Saturday’s flight, set to be done on the anniversary of one of the most fateful days in the nation’s history will be a moving one for Fox. He’s done important flights before, including one in North Ogden to honor the late mayor and Major Brent Taylor, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2018. Fox is hoping the flag in Utah County can inspire a sense of unity that he feels has been absent lately.
He hopes we can all unite the way he saw Americans come together in the days following 9/11.
“It was one of the roughest things that ever hit our country on our own soil and it’s hard to look at this day and, and not have thoughts about the evil and the people that decided to make that happen,” Fox says. “But it’s also a day I think that what we can take away from is the way we took care of each other on that day and the days to follow. And that’s exactly what needs to happen again.”
*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the flag would be flown in Provo Canyon. It will actually be flown in Rock Canyon.