LARGER THAN LIFE
When Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso said he wanted to honor America's veterans on a grand scale, he wasn't exaggerating.
His goal came to fruition during a ceremony Friday when 40 Louisiana National Guard troops raised a gigantic American flag up a 150-foot flagpole on the grounds of the Iberville/Ochsner Medical Complex.
A crowd of approximately 200 – both officials and area residents – braved the heat and humidity for the ceremony at the complex along La. 1 South.
Troops hoisted the gigantic banner of Old Glory, which weighed 270 lbs. and measured 80 feet by 40 feet.
The flag not only serves as a new landmark for the parish, but also represents the patriotism the parish shows to the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces, Ourso said.
"People want to have a good feeling about Iberville Parish, but more importantly about the United States," he said. "This means a lot to all of us, and it's the biggest on the Westside.
"I admired that type of flag when I'd see it in Winnsboro on the way back from seeing my son in Monroe, and I wanted one bigger and better," Ourso said.
Ourso believes the new flag may be the largest in the state, west of the Mississippi River.
The Parish Council unanimously approved the project last year at a cost $163,000.
"It was worth every penny," Ourso said.
Stacy Ferrier, a member of the VFW Honor Guard from Post 3785, said she was awed by the magnitude of the new flag.
"It's just absolutely amazing … so beautiful," she said. "Ever since I've moved by the community, I've been deeply moved by the support for our veterans, and every time I ride by this, I'll know how much people here care about us."
Many of those who attended the ceremony snapped shots with their phones or cameras to capture the first images of the gigantic flag.
Longtime resident Joe Guilbeau, 91, was among the few who chose not to snap a picture.
"I compare what I saw today to a trip to Niagara Falls," he said. "To fully appreciate it, you have to see it with your own eyes."