Amsterdam’s Military Banner Program has been a major success since the city first rolled out the initiative last November, with 36 banners honoring both veterans and current service members currently hanging on city streets, and a few dozen more on the way.
However, the popularity of the program coupled with production delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created a bit of a logjam, causing the city’s Tourism, Marketing and Recreation Department to put a temporary halt to applications for new banners.
Applications will be temporarily closed starting Friday, and Tourism, Marketing and Recreation Director Rob Spagnola said it should take about a month for the backlog of banners to be completed, allowing new applications to start rolling in.
Pausing the application process will allow the city to streamline the process and give new applicants a better idea as to what streets and locations are available.
“We just have so many to get up and produced,” Spagnola said. “It’s hard to tell people when they call which streets are open and which poles are open, because we’re so backed up with so many we have to get up. As soon as we get everybody up, we’ll be able to give everybody accurate information. We’ll be able to do that in a month or so.”
The backlog occurred as the company producing the banners, Impact Promotions, was forced to close down for several months due to the pandemic.
“The guy was closed down for three months, four months, and then he got back open and I’m sure we’re not the only place that’s giving him orders,” Spagnola said. “It was backlogged, then a bunch came in, now we’re getting them up — but we still have a lot more in production. We apologize to people, because I know it’s taking a lot longer than it normally would, but I hope everybody understands the circumstances as to why that’s happening.”
The banner program made its debut late last year with World War II veteran Dr. Fred Pipito, Korean War veteran Louis Parisi and Iraq war veteran Manuel Millan as the first three to be honored.
The banners cost $160 each, which covers all expenses for both production and installation, and individuals can either sponsor or make donations for those who can’t afford the cost of a banner.
Once a banner is put on display, a picture of the banner is added to the city’s website along with information on each honoree and the address of each banner. That information is also posted to the city’s Facebook page.
Response, Spagnola said, has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s just crazy how many [applications] keep coming in every day,” he said. “It’s a great thing — everybody’s thrilled about that.
“It hasn’t been a surprise, but it’s been nice to see.”
A brief pause on applications will allow the city to get through the current backlog and provide applicants a more accurate listing of what streets are available, making it easier for future applicants to get banners placed as close to their preferred locations as possible.
“The program, by no means, is being shut down or even being considered to be closed off,” Spagnola said. “We just want to give people the right information when they call in and ask, ‘Hey, is pole X, Y or Z available? Is this block available?’ We really can’t give anybody an accurate response, because we’ve got so many in the queue here to be produced and to be put up. We figured that this way, we’ll get everybody’s [banner] in, we’ll get everybody’s posted, we’ll inventory what spots are filled and what spots are available and we’ll be able to tell people, ‘Sorry, this street is filled, but how about looking over here because this is close to it?’”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.