Ski Demski’s oversize American flags

Nov. 11, 1980: Members of the armed forces and veterans unfurl a 42-by-75-foot American flag in the street outside Thomas (Ski) Demski’s Long Beach home.

The first two photos by Joe Kennedy in the above gallery appeared in the Nov. 12, 1980, Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Richard West reported:

The American flag that Thomas (Ski) Demski has been flying in front of his Long Beach home on special occasions just wasn’t big enough, he said Tuesday. It was only 30 by 50 feet, or 1,500 square feet.

So for Veterans Day, Demski decided to hoist a flag twice as large, one that would, according to flag experts, be the largest ever to fly from a pole.

This flag – 42 by 75 feet, or 3,150 square feet – was raised Tuesday by members of armed services and veterans groups to the top of a 127 1/2-foot pole in the front yard of Demski’s home at 404 Lime Ave.

It weighs about 150 pounds, cost $2,120 and took six employees of the Aureli Flag Co. in Torrance one week to make.

Demski, a manufacturer of bumper stickers, said he will fly this gigantic Old Glory until the end of the week, then take it down and not raise it again until the American hostages are freed by Iran – unless, of course, an important national holiday should intervene.…

Demski pointed out that the metal eagle atop the pole has a four-foot wingspan. The whole pole, he said, has been christened “The Pole” by a fellow Pole, Father Frank Wanek of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, North Hollywood.

A Navy veteran of the Korean War, Demski, said that some neighbors and business people in his area have complained about his penchant for flying big flags, but “I just don’t talk to them.”

Demski first raised his 30-by-50-foot flag last July after the Long Beach City Council voted to do away with restrictions on the height of flagpoles and the size of flags.

He also has a third flag – a 20-by-30-footer – for minor occasions.

“What really pleased me,” Demski said, “was when a little old lady came up to me when I was flying the 30-by-50 footer and said: ‘You’ve brought a new meaning to my life. I’m 87 and used to never go out of my apartment. But now I’ve got something to go out and look at.’”

Demski would commission larger flags. On June 14, 1993 – Flag Day – Demski unfurled his 255-by-505-foot “Super flag.”  The flag filled a portion of the Mall in front of the Washington Monument. At the time, the flag was the world’s largest, making the Guinness Book of World Records.

Demski died in 2002. His Los Angeles Times obituary is online: Thomas Demski, 72; Owned Largest U.S. Flag.