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He created the world's largest American flags and proudly flew them outside his modest Long Beach home

He created the world's largest American flags and proudly flew them outside his modest Long Beach home
1989 photo of Thomas 'Ski' Demski with his parrot'Peppy' in front of his flagpole in Long Beach. (Ellen Jaskol / Los Angeles Times)

There are many ways to express your patriotism. But Thomas "Ski" Demski did it big.

Demski, a Long Beach Navy veteran of the Korean War and manufacturer of bumper stickers, gained national attention in 1980 by unveiling — with help from members of the armed forces and veterans — a 42-by-75-foot American flag in the street outside his home.

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As The Times reported back then:

The flag 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.

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

Demski 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 4-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 in North Hollywood.

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."

"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.

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