Heading through Hampton Bays with her mother one day about six years ago, Shannon Merker, then in the fifth grade, asked why Flanders—the hamlet her family has called home for close to a century—did not have an official flag.
She sketched her vision of what the flag could look like, and sent it off with a letter to Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi. The drawing, portraying the iconic Big Duck, was framed and hung at the David C. Crohan Community Center in Flanders, which is named for Shannon’s late grandfather.
But the flag was never made official—that is, until last week.
Shannon, now 17 and a junior at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead, contacted Mr. Nuzzi again last fall to ask if the town could make her design the official flag for her hometown.
“I was jogging down the road, and it just popped into my head,” she explained.
He advised her to present the design to local civic groups and the Flanders Village Historical Society, which she did happily over the winter, making small adjustments based on their input. “It’s pretty much stayed true to my original idea,” she pointed out.
On Tuesday, May 14, the Town Board formally adopted the tidied-up version of her design, which portrays the Big Duck sitting in a marsh. “Flanders, Home of the Big Duck, Founded 1648,” it reads.
“We’re very proud of the fact that she worked so hard on this from a young age,” Mr Nuzzi said.
He and the other members of the Town Board presented Shannon with a proclamation, commending her for her persistence and effort. “One of her aspirations is to become supervisor one day,” Mr. Nuzzi said. “I could certainly see that becoming a reality.”
The flag will fly at the David W. Crohan Community Center and the Veterans Park in Flanders, for which Shannon and her mother, Lisa Merker, are caretakers. It will be raised during a ceremony at the park in June.