Maine Family Gives up on Proposal to Honor Veterans with the World's Tallest Flagpole

An American flag flies at Patriot Park.
An American flag flies at Patriot Park, a collection of monuments in tribute to veterans in Columbia Falls, Maine, Saturday, May 27, 2023. The Worcester family was hoping to build a $1 billion flagpole theme park nearby, but an attorney said Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, that they won’t pursue the project either in Washington County or elsewhere, and will look for other ways to honor veterans. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine (AP) — The family behind an audacious plan to build the world's tallest flagpole as the centerpiece of a billion-dollar development honoring veterans in rural Down East Maine is abandoning the idea, an attorney said Friday.

The Worcester family won't pursue the flagpole project in Washington County or elsewhere for the time being and will look instead for other ways to commemorate those who have served, lawyer Timothy Pease said.

“They believed this project was a good project to honor veterans. But now they’re looking for new ways to honor veterans in the future,” Pease said.

The proposal unveiled two years ago has divided the town of Columbia Falls, population 485, and residents are preparing to vote next month on proposed zoning ordinances governing large-scale development. A flagpole stretching 1,461 feet (445 meters) skyward wouldn't meet the height restrictions contained in the proposal, which came out of several public sessions after residents voted to put the brakes on the project, said Jeff Greene, a member of the Board of Selectmen.

“We didn’t create ordinances to take down the flagpole project. We created ordinances to give the community control of their community," Greene said Friday evening after learning of the developers' decision, which was first reported by the Maine Monitor.

The towering pole would've been taller than the Empire State Building, topped with an American flag bigger than a football field and visible on a clear day from miles (kilometers) away.

But the original proposal called for much more than just that. The developers envisioned a village with living history museums, a 4,000-seat auditorium, restaurants and a sprawling monument with the names of every veteran who has died since the American Revolution — about 24 million in all.

The plan also called for elevators to bring people to observation decks from where they would be able to see all the way to Canada.

“It’s like putting the Eiffel Tower in the Maine wilderness,” a resident once said.

The Worcester family — which is behind Worcester Wreath Co. and Wreaths Across America, which provide hundreds of thousands of wreaths to military cemeteries and gravesites around the world — touted the project as away to unite people and honor veterans.

The project also would’ve brought much-needed jobs to a region that’s long on natural beauty and short on economic development, they said.

Pease said the Worcesters remain committed to the original aims behind the project: “The family is absolutely devoted to honoring veterans, and they’ll find ways to do that in the future.”

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