The desert town of Calipatria doesn't have a ton going for it. It's small, dusty, unbearably hot and in the middle of nowhere, ripe with the grimy stench from the Salton Sea nearby. But let's give this town the credit it deserves, it does have an enormously tall flagpole.
Behold! The 184-foot flagpole, which stands tall and proud in the town's square, waving in the imperial winds and fully dressed to impress the unsuspecting viewers below. With a plague that reads “Dedicated to Good Neighborliness,” the flagpole seems majestic in the basking sun, even somewhat comforting amongst the dry heat of the desert.
Although (supposedly) no longer the record holder, the flagpole still impresses with its brutish strength and durability. In fact, it's so big and tall that several long steel ropes are needed to keep it up in the air. Now, you're playing with power.
Unfortunately, there's not much else to see here, but stop by and salute the good people of Calipatria.
HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN?
The flagpole's origin story can be traced to an unlikely Chamber of Commerce meeting where it was suggested that such a sight would greatly benefit the city's economy. However, one major road block ($$...) would almost bury the town's dream, and it would take a tragedy to finally get the deed done.
On October 5, 1967 Calipatrias' local pharmacist, Harry Momita and wife Helen, got into a terrible car accident while visiting their children in Los Angeles. Helen was killed and Harry was sent to the hospital with major injuries, which would keep his store closed for weeks.
Like all small towns, a blow to one family was devastating to the community, so Calipatraians’ mayor swooped in to the rescue. Grabbing Harry's keys from his bedside, the mayor re-opened his pharmacy so that Harry's cash flows wouldn't suffer while he was recovering. The townspeople also came in clutch, donated money for flowers and paying his medical bills.
After recovering, Harry was amazed by the town's kindness and wanted to give back to the community. He remembering the crackpot flagpole scheme discussed in the past, and decided to moved forward with the "Build the Flagpole" campaign. The gamble actually paid off and he was able to generate enough revenue for the town to seriously consider the project. As an added bonus, once the head of the Pacific Southwest Pipe Company heard the story, he volunteered his company’s services in designing and building the monument for free.
If that wasn't enough of a tearjerker, get this; During another Chamber of Commerce dinner, they discussed dedicating the flagpole to Harry's deceased wife, Helen. Harry would negate this suggestion, saying "She was always a shy and gentle person." and decided that it should be dedicated to "Good Neighborliness," remembering the good deeds the town had bestowed upon him.