Burger King’s Bacon Sundae

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

Fast food giant Burger King has rolled out a revamped menu this summer in an attempt to win back customers. And up until now their attempt hasn’t lured this suburban gastronome. I can’t remember the last time I darkened a door at Burger King. But the pull of bacon cannot be underestimated, especially when it plays a role in a sweet and savory dessert. I knew the BK Bacon Sundae needed a review here on Roots, even over the objections of my wife.

My wife’s concerns were quite valid. At 510 calories, 18 grams of fat and 61 grams of sugar, the BK Bacon Sundae is a cardiologist visit waiting to happen. On the flip side, Burger King’s menu isn’t exactly loaded with healthy options. But my wife also thought my blogger credibility might suffer as a result of this review. Credibility, schmedibility! We’re talking bacon here!

So I sneaked over to a Burger King in Johns Creek yesterday and plopped down my $2.49. A minute later my creation arrived. It’s a generous helping of soft-serve ice cream topped with chocolate and caramel syrup. Next comes two strips of bacon. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the strips are sandwich-length strips and not the length you might expect from a slab of bacon.

One strip of bacon is crumbled atop the sundae. The second strip is impaled vertically into the sundae as if to plant the victory flag. The meaning is clear – bacon has conquered this sundae. It might be the best visual presentation of any fast food dessert.

As would be expected, the smokey and salty taste of the bacon complements the caramel and chocolate. It didn’t go well with the ice cream though. It also didn’t help that the bacon pieces were large. Diced bacon would have worked much better in this sundae. And I would have much preferred the four ingredients  to have been mixed together, along the lines of what Cold Stone Creamery might do with their toppings. The bacon may have infused its salty goodness a little better with this approach.

At the end of the day, this is a fast food soft-serve sundae with bacon sprinkled on top. I ate perhaps a third of the sundae and pitched the rest. And while there is some novelty to this, having now experienced it I doubt I will repeat.

Inviting bacon to the dessert menu is hardly a new culinary idea, even in the suburbs. Dutch Monkey Doughnuts has had a bacon-wrapped doughnut on their menu for years. Jilly’s Cupcakery bakes a very delicious maple bacon cupcake. It’s perhaps the best thing on their menu. Those craving this sweet/savory yin yang should pursue these creations, not the BK Bacon Sundae.

Remembering Alex Petkus of Scratch Fresh

Alex Petkus was an expert in social networking. No he wasn’t a whiz at Facebook and Twitter. His brand of networking was the old fashioned kind; pressing flesh in a firm handshake, warm greetings, learning and remembering first names. Alex was the most genuinely friendly and personable restauranteur in the Alpharetta area. He passed away Monday at the age of 49.

I first met Alex about five years ago. He’d opened a small chicken wing joint with a cool Sopranos theme called Bada Bing Wings. It was a quiet place close to my home that my kids, toddlers at the time, enjoyed. Like most of his customers it didn’t take long before we got to know “Mr. Alex” on a first name basis. We even met his wife Deb and enjoyed her delicious contributions to the restaurant’s menu.

My kids adored Mr. Alex. I recall my daughter’s birthday one year when we allowed her to pick any restaurant in town for dinner. Without hesitating she choose Mr. Alex’s place. Later when Alex was ill and away from his restaurant my daughter colored him a get well card. I’m regretting having to tell her of his passing.

Alex later became a partner in Scratch Fresh, a burger concept in Milton near Walmart. His friendly demeanor enveloped the place. Within the employees at Scratch Alex created a culture of appreciation and hospitality unlike any I’ve seen in a local restaurant. Today the restaurant has a tremendously loyal following because of it.

My family continued to see Alex over the years. As my kids grew Alex would joke about the time he bought a special vacuum cleaner at Bada Bing to clean up after my messy son David. Today he orders a much neater grilled cheese sandwich at Scratch.  Alex always remembered to make it “the David way” with inverted hamburger buns. It was these small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness, remembered and repeated hundreds of times over, that won him repeat business.

I saw Alex last week for dinner. He’d just returned from the east coast of Florida where he was scouting a future location for Scratch Fresh. The plan was for he and his wife to move there within the year. I was disappointed that we’d be losing this friend to relocation in the coming months but was excited for his opportunity. Unfortunately we lost him much sooner.

Que & Brew – Barbeque and beer for a good cause

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

Crabapple’s much anticipated new barbeque restaurant, Grand Champion BBQ, will partner with Sweetwater Brewery for a good cause. The two are hosting a fundraiser called Que & Brew to raise money for Brandon Matos. Brandon, a Pope High School graduate, is paralyzed from the chest down following a terrible diving accident and is undergoing daily treatments.

The event will feature barbeque, beer from Sweetwater and local bands. Unfortunately the event is in Atlanta but is worth the drive. This is a great opportunity to sample Grand Champion’s grub ahead of their arrival in Crabapple next month. It also helps a deserving young man who needs assistance.

What: Que & Brew
When: Tuesday June 26th from 7-10pm
Where: Sweetwater Brewery, 195 Ottley Drive in Atlanta
Cost: $30

Alpharetta’s downtown master development plan

Last week I wrote about Alpharetta’s downtown plans and their apparent rush to get a master plan approved. I’m pleased that the city added a few more opportunities to comment, although only one week was added to the schedule.

My original thoughts on the plan remain unchanged since last week. The plan has morphed from largely municipal and park usage in 2011 to an ambitious and intense mixed-used development.

In the last few days I’ve come upon the city’s master development plan, a document that spans some forty pages, in addition to some of the steering committee’s meeting minutes. These unreleased documents give a better glimpse into the scale and magnitude of the project, something you may not gather from the two dimensional aerial views. My biggest concerns are…

Size of development

341,200 square feet. That’s the total size of retail and “other uses” in the four main buildings as drawn up in the master development plan. To put this into perspective, the proposed Walmart I wrote about on GA141 in south Forsyth will measure in at 177,000 square feet. I know this isn’t a big-box retail situation but mention it only to give a basis for comparison. This is a large development on a compacted piece of downtown property.

Cross section of the northeast building showing lower parking deck


The city’s bond referendum included a 450-space municipal parking deck. During public comment last year some were skeptical of the parking deck in terms of size and cost. Nevertheless the bond passed and the deck is in the plan.

What’s nearly invisible from the drawings and presentations last week are two additional parking decks. The two largest buildings each sit atop their own parking deck, each packed with two stories of cars. The development plan shows a total of 1,244 new parking spaces between the municipal deck and the two buildings on the east.

The best way to see these decks is via the cross sectional view shown above. Again, the explosion of parking decks shows the sheer size of this development.

Park and Green Space

Many at the June 6th public meeting felt like park space took it on the chin in this plan. It seemed greatly reduced in size over the 2011 drawings. One councilman that night insisted to me that the park space remained the same size. After reading the master development plan I think he might be right… with a little twist

Together the town green, city park and landscaped walkways (on internal streets) provide a total of over six acres of landscaped open space.

Are the landscaped walkways along the new internal streets being counted toward park space? It’s a familiar tactic other mixed-use developers have employed to get to a desired green space footprint. Let’s hope Alpharetta isn’t taking a page from their playbook. I expect better out of Alpharetta given their already stellar public parks.

Additionally, Councilman Jim Gilvin expressed concern Monday night that the city hall building doesn’t have service access drawn into the plan. With this building sitting in the park, such access could cut more from park space.

The City’s Spin

Those with the city are sticking with two main talking points during this discussion. First, they maintain that the 2011 drawings were not master plans but rather concept documents. I think most understand that idea. However, the public drew inferences from the 2011 concept with regard to the scope of the plan. That scope has dramatically changed.

Second, the city is being very careful to avoid discussion on potential uses in the development, particularly what goes above retail. If there’s an elephant in the room, this is it. In the public meetings they guide conversation away from this topic. Even in the steering committee meetings they were careful not to discuss this idea – with one exception. In one meeting the city’s architect “noted that residential seems to be the best use for the land and future development facing the park.”

It is my belief that a private developer would pursue apartments over retail in this plan.  Given the glut of vacant office space and demand for apartments, this is a no-brainer.

A Downtown “Village”

Both Mayor David Belle Isle and Councilman Donald Mitchell sit on this downtown steering committee. Both used the term “village” in their campaigns last year when describing downtown Alpharetta. It’s a subjective term I suppose. Conjure up what that means to yourself. If a downtown village includes three parking decks and 341,200 square feet of mixed-use development then you should be in favor of this plan. If you imagine a different village feel downtown then maybe you should let your voice be heard.

Alpharetta Restaurant & Retail News – June 2012

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

Self-serve frozen yogurt was the fad of 2010 and 2011. Will beer growlers become the fad of 2012? We’re about to see a flurry of them open in the northern burbs. Will they all survive? How will lovers of brew decide who’s best? Will first to market play a factor? Location? Price? Service? We’ll have to figure it out I guess. To me, anything located near a froyo joint may get my business! The kids can eat trendy frozen treats while I get 64 ounces of frothy goodness.

Blind Murphy Craft Beer Market will be the first growler store to open in Alpharetta at 53 South Main Street. Look for a soft opening next week. Shortly following Murphy and not that far away will be “The Growler Store.” This franchise shop will open near La Parilla on North Main Street. The same franchise will open another store in Johns Creek in the Kroger shopping center at Haynes Bridge and Old Alabama.

OVR Coffee Cafe – Vickery Village

Coming late summer to Vickery Village. OVR will feature a vegan bakery and locally-sourced organic ingredients put together by a Le Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef. It’s a completely new concept that ought to work well in Vickery.

The Velvet Note

This intimate (read “small”) food and music venue opens TODAY on Old Milton Parkway. They will host a free opening tonight and Saturday. From there expect weekend shows featuring live jazz. Velvet Note is an interesting concept that I hope is successful here.

Fresh Mexicano Grill – McGinnis Ferry

I don’t know much about this restaurant. They are coming soon to the strip mall where Legend’s Deli used to be. I have serious doubts that any restaurant can survive in this strip mall for several reasons. 1) It has poor visibility from the road. 2) Nearby schools and churches makes obtaining liquor licenses a challenge and 3) I’ve heard that the landlord is difficult to work with. So with that in mind, buena suerte Fresh Mexicano.

Pretzel prayer couldn't save these guys

Pretzel Company – Closed

This small pretzel shop in Milton near Target has closed. Not that long ago they ditched their franchise arrangement in a controversial move and went independent. Unfortunately the move didn’t seem to work out. Even their Tebow pretzel (which went viral) couldn’t save the store.

Dickey’s BBQ Pit – Avenue Forsyth

A new Dickey’s franchise is coming to the old Hangry’s space across the street from the Avenue Forsyth. This location hasn’t been kind of past tenants so we’ll see how marginal barbecue does in the space. Jim-N-Nicks is nearby and doing all kinds of business.

Burger 21

This fast casual burger restaurant started in my hometown of Tampa. They are about to rapidly expand and have chosen the Atlanta burbs for their first destination outside of the sunshine state. No specific locations have been announced but I’m told they are looking in Milton and the Mall of Georgia area in Buford. Check out this article for more about the concept and their expansion plans.

Dottie’s Delight/Bad Wolf BBQ- Closed

This hole-in-the-wall breakfast and barbecue shop on McFarland Parkway impressed me two years ago with their Q. I’m sad to report that they’ve closed.

FIGO Pasta – Renovating

This chain of fast casual pasta restaurants will begin a phase of renovations. Alpharetta’s location on North Point is the first in the chain to get a new look. They are now closed but will reopen in about a week. If you check their Facebook page you can sign up for a ticket to their grand re-opening.


North American Properties announced several new tenants for their Avalon project. The list included Yard House, a restaurant featuring American food and lots of beer. Retailers announced included Orvis, Arhaus, Athleta, Anthropologie and Paper Source. Orvis will be interesting to watch as downtown’s Alpharetta Outfitters already carries a large selection of their products. Will a company store at Avalon hurt this downtown retailer?

Romeo’s NY Pizza – Crabapple

They opened June 1st in the old Vito’s Pizza location in Crabapple. Other locations include Johns Creek, Lawrenceville and Canton.

Cuzi Fresh Cafe – Old Milton

They are moving their cutely-named restaurant a few blocks down the street. Look for them in new digs at 4160 Old Milton Pkwy. This is a free-standing restaurant that used to be the home of Stix Sushi and Donatos Pizza.

Restaurants Coming Soon

Meat and Potatoes Kitchen & Bar - Johns Creek in the old Rio Bravo/Star Diner space.
Joe’s NY Pizzeria - Buildout has started for their location at 1605 Mansell Road.
Pollo Tropical - It is very doubtful that Alpharetta will approve their drive-thru restaurant near the mall. Knowing that, Pollo delayed their application to the city. I hope they can find another location nearby. In the meantime, the next closest store will be in Johns Creek.
Uncle Madio’s Pizza - The coming soon banner is up in their new location. Look for them on Windward in K Cafe’s old space.
Tassa Carribean Express - From the folks behind Tassa Roti Shop in Marietta. Buildout is underway for their Old Milton location.
Chipotle - No word on when they will break ground on this new Haynes Bridge location near the mall.
Mirko Pasta - Opening in Johns Creek, State Bridge and Medlock Bridge.
Carrabbas - Construction has started on their new location at the Avenue Forsyth. Look for them on an outparcel between Chick-Fil-A and Red Robin.
Grand Champion BBQ – A highly-anticipated second location is coming in July to Crabapple.
Grecian Gyro – A franchise gyro shop coming to Johns Creek Walk.
Haiku Sushi Steakhouse – The same folks behind the Etris Road restaurant in Roswell are looking at Yamato’s old space on North Point Parkway.

Retail Coming Soon

Walmart Neighborhood Market - A new grocery-only version of Walmart to open at 11770 Haynes Bridge Road behind Alpha Soda.
Walmart -A third Forsyth County location is being planned on GA-141 and Mathis Airport Parkway near Target.
Regal Theaters - Moving from North Point Parkway to the new Avalon project.
AMC Theaters – Coming to North Point Mall in late 2013. The Revue & News reported that the theater may include IMAX screens.

Alpharetta acting with haste to approve different downtown plan?

Planning for Alpharetta’s new downtown may come to a quick and abrupt end over the course of the next week. The city has called, with one week’s notice, a single public meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening. Council is preparing to vote on a plan as soon as June 11th. Additionally, the 22 acre property may include an ambitious mixed-use component that wasn’t previously presented prior to the referendum vote in November.

Here’s how Alpharetta’s downtown plans and sketches have morphed since the public voted.

It was right at a year ago when Alpharetta released this first sketch of downtown. This blogger remarked at the time in this article that he was “stunned and pleasantly surprised not to see small condos all over this plan.” The drawing had a lot of green and a few “future development” boxes. As can be seen, these boxes were almost see-through, directing attention to the white-colored new buildings of city hall, the library and parking deck.

Over the summer of 2011 drawing number two emerged along with several beautiful artist renderings of the plan. “Future development” became a little more visible but remained a small part of the plan, lining the public green. Next the city held several public forums and conducted online city hall discussions. No mention was made of mixed-use plans in the 22 acre project, nor was a residential component brought up. Alpharetta voters approved the $29 million bond referendum in November.

Six months pass with almost no public discussion of downtown plans until the city announces the June 6th public hearing.  Next this third sketch of downtown is released with far less detail. Nearly the entire western half of the 22 acre project is consumed by mixed-use development. MU property even wraps around the Publix supermarket. City Hall and the library are pushed east into the green space.

It’s clear that the scope of the downtown Alpharetta project has materially changed since it was put before voters in November. What was presented at that time was largely municipal buildings, parks and green space. Half of today’s concept could become mixed-use development. Under Alpharetta’s code that’s likely to include condos or apartments. Furthermore the city is acting with haste to approve this plan with only one public presentation announced on short notice.

The city should slow down and encourage more dialogue prior to making such a dramatic change to the downtown plan. Until then, those concerned have only one opportunity to voice their opinions publicly – Wednesday June 6th, 6:30pm at City Hall.

Woody’s Meat and Sausage Company – South Forsyth

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday. Today we feature a guest post from Mike Christensen. Follow Mike on Twitter @SCSA31274.

I remember when I was a small child going to the local butcher shop with my mother in Tucker, Georgia. I would pick out the cuts of meat, having each one wrapped in that white butcher paper to take some and enjoy with my family.

Flash forward to 2012, and that classic butcher shop has returned in the form of Woody’s Meat and Sausage Company in South Forsyth off of Hwy 9 just north of MacFarland Road.  Owner Woody Hornsby, a Columbia, South Carolina native, has a passion for serving the best beef, pork and sausage in the northern suburbs.

Woody spent many years working in the corporate world before a chance encounter with a local butcher lead him to his true calling.  He spent over a year scouting locations in and around Alpharetta before finally opening his shop in September of 2009.  Woody has a family history of sausage making.  He uses a 100 year old recipe from Italy passed down through his wife’s side of the family as well as spices procured from a cousin in Northern Louisiana to make his sausage.  The sausage contains no preservatives, a natural casing and is a single grind for texture.

Woody is a mad scientist when it comes to his sausage, constantly trying new blends.  The current best seller is a three cheese jalapeno bratwurst.  The sheer number of types they make will make your head spin.  He grinds most of the types of sausage in house every day.  Some types such as the pork alligator are shipped in from Louisiana from the same cousin who has the spices, although Woody is working on making all those in house as well to keep costs down for his customers.

Speaking of customers, Woody strives to make his customers a part of his family.  He’s constantly in the shop greeting folks, cutting meat to order, and educating people on the types of meat as well as preparation techniques.  I’ve visited Woody’s several times, and I have never been disappointed.  The strip steaks I got on my first visit were cut as thick as I like it (1 ½ inches) and trimmed perfectly.  It takes longer than grabbing a shrink wrapped steak off the shelf at Kroger, but it’s worth it 10 times over.  Once cooked on my grill, the steaks were better than most steak houses I’ve been to.

Woody uses the top one third choice meats and wet ages them a minimum of 14 days.  Every cut of meat you will find there is fresh, never frozen.  On subsequent visits, I’ve happily tried the ribs and bacon, both of which lead me running back for more.  The ribs came devoid of the dreaded silver skin, which was a pleasant surprise, and the bacon was hearty and didn’t shrivel up in the pan.

Woody doesn’t advertise but instead relies on word of mouth to build a loyal following.  They have recently started offering entrees.  Several days during the week Woody makes a main course and sells it throughout the day such as white chicken chili or red beans and sausage.  You can like their Facebook page or sign up for their email list in the store for new product info such as the entrée of the day, new types of sausage or any news or changes.

Woody is looking to add more coolers and equipment in the near future to keep up with demand.  The shop is welcoming with a children’s table to occupy the little ones while your order is prepared.  Everyone there is very friendly and will take all the time you need to make sure that you’re satisfied.  Stop on by and while you’re waiting check out the pictures all around the shop.  See Woody’s wife’s 7th grade patrol trip to Washington D.C. and try to pick her out.  (hint: she’s the one in the white).

If you want the best meat buying experience that you’ve had since you were a kid, check out Woody’s Meat and Sausage Company.  Your carnivorous taste buds will thank you.

Woody’s Meat and Sausage Company is located at 5925 Atlanta Highway in south Forsyth. www.woodysmeatandsausageco.com

Feet, chicken, apartments and downtown

What do feet, chicken, apartments and downtown Alpharetta have in common? They will all be considered, in some strange way, at tonight’s City Council meeting in Alpharetta.  Here are some brief thoughts…

Healthy Massage – North Main

Alpharetta’s code is carefully worded when it comes to massage parlors. It’s a good safeguard to prevent a certain kind of undesirable massage parlor from cropping up (as has happened in south Forsyth). Thankfully the proposed Healthy Massage at 875 North Main Street (in the Taco Mac stripmall) is not one of these joints. The folks behind Healthy Massage also own Royal Foot Spa in Doraville. Check out their reviews on Yelp for a better idea what to expect. Maybe a foot massage review is in order here on Roots?

Pollo Tropical – North Point

The master plan around the mall does not allow for drive-thru restaurants (even though three exist very close by). This seems to be the main sticking point for Pollo Tropical. The Planning Commission suggested denial of the idea and I expect the City Council to vote it down as well. That’s a shame as I’d like to see Pollo Tropical in Alpharetta. Perhaps they should consider another location. The former Tifosi Gastropub space comes to mind.

AMLI Webb Bridge Apartments

AMLI wants to build 300 garden-style apartments at Webb Bridge and Westside Parkway, almost across the street from Avalon. I don’t expect any Councilmen to vote for this, especially those next up for re-election in 2013.

And speaking of AMLI… rumor has it that they had a stenographer taking notes at the Avalon hearing a few months back.

Highway 9 LCI Study

I’ve not a big fan of these “Livable Centers Initiatives”. That being said, the highway 9 plan, most of which is in Milton, is not terribly bad. Thankfully the consultant resisted the urge to slam maximum density into the space. However there are still areas of concern with the plan. I expect to see discussion and debate tonight followed by a divided vote to approve.


The council will likely approve an incentive zoning plan that will encourage, among other things, “chef-driven” restaurants (which are not defined), microbrew beer stores, specialty food stores, and boutiques. If you can define “chef-driven restaurant” in a way that would work in city code, leave me a comment. If they use your definition, I’ll buy you lunch at one of these restaurants!

Council will also consider a change that would require outdoor dining furniture to be metal or black in color. I kinda feel bad for the Siegel family at The Corner Deli as this new ordinance takes direct aim at their popular little restaurant. Unless they are grandfathered in (which I don’t see a clause for), they would be forced to remove their existing outdoor furniture and replace.

While I like the idea of fancy outdoor furniture downtown, I don’t know that now is the right time to be requiring it. The city should be incentivizing to attract business, not placing new restrictions.

Appen Newspapers’ Best of 2012

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

Voting is underway in the Appen Newspapers’ Best of 2012. This is a yearly survey conducted by the paper that asks readers for their favorites in a number of categories. Appen’s broad reach in print and online (in all of north Fulton and south Forsyth) makes this poll a pretty good barometer of overall favorability. I encourage my readers to click this banner and participate. It really doesn’t take much time.

Even though I struggled with how to vote on a lot of questions, I thought I would share my personal preferences. Here are a handful of my choices. Leave me a comment and let me know how you voted.

Best Ethnic Restaurant – Jerusalem Bakery. Mexican restaurants have dominated this category in years past. I might agree with a Latin choice here for a place like Mambo’s Cafe or Boga Taqueria. But in my opinion, Jerusalem Bakery is a gem of a restaurant that doesn’t get enough recognition.

Best Breakfast – BB’s Bagels. Nothing compares to the water-boiled bagels at BB’s. Their everything bagel is a weekly obsession for me. Past winners in this category have included J Christophers which show the chain’s popularity.

Best Dessert – The Chocolatier at The Avenue Forsyth. It’s probably not a choice most would consider. The truffles here are magnificent and stunningly beautiful. The hands-on favorite for this category is always Alpine Bakery in Crabapple. Alpine’s cakes are beautiful creations and they offer a dazzling array of choices in their expanded restaurant. But in the taste and flavor department, Alpine’s cakes have always let me down.

Best Pizza – Verra-Zanno in Johns Creek. I love the pizza choices we have in north Fulton. Among my favorites are Brooklyn Joes (who was a finalists in this category in years past), Vintage Pizza in Crabapple and Sid’s Pizza in south Forsyth. Verra-Zanno continues to be my personal favorite based on quality of ingredients and consistency of product.

Best BBQ – Grand Champion BBQ. This is a bit of a stretch since these guys are in east Cobb, but their pending arrival in Crabapple will shake the BBQ scene in this area. Until that happens, look for ‘Cue in Milton to run away with this category.

Best Overall Restaurant – I didn’t vote. You’d think I would have an opinion here but I found the question amazingly tough. It would be like asking me to pick my favorite child. I can’t do it. But in this category Appen’s readers usually pick the type of restaurant you’d take your wife on an anniversary date. Places like Milton’s in Crabapple, Cabernet or Village Tavern usually do well. Strangely the readers usually stick to the immediate Alpharetta area and don’t select something in Roswell.

I didn’t vote for much else in the survey. I selected Publix as best grocery store (Whole Foods and Harrys are too expensive for everyday shopping). Muse was my pick for best hair salon. My wife always looks amazing after visiting this trendy place. And for best realtor I selected fellow blogger Bob Strader.

Memorial Day in the Burbs – Proper Display of the Flag

This Memorial Day article was originally posted two years ago here on Roots in Alpharetta and last year in the Revue & News. If you have a flag, please display it this weekend.

I’m always impressed with the poignant observances of Memorial Day I see in the northern burbs of Atlanta. Have you ever driven through Duluth during this time of year? The number of flags is amazing. Or how about Milton’s cross display along Deerfield Parkway? We’re a patriotic bunch up here, something to take pride in.

It’s also cool to see so many display our country’s colors on their homes in the neighborhoods. When we moved into our current house I was excited to find a flag hook already installed above the garage. I suppose I could have installed something like this myself, but that would involve using tools and hardware and stuff. I try not to do this kind of thing without adult supervision.

If you’re going to display the flag on your home, you should at least make an effort to follow proper flag protocol. Here’s what I’ve learned on the subject…

Most of us will hang the flag on a staff set at an angle against your home. Always hang the flag with the union (the blue part) at the top. If you can’t figure this part out then you’ve got bigger problems.

Make sure the flag hangs free and doesn’t touch the ground, trees, bushes, garden gnomes, your wife’s Cadillac Escalade, etc.

It is okay to display the flag in the rain or poor weather if it is made of all-weather material. If it is hand stitched then you probably shouldn’t be running it up your suburban flagpole in the first place.

You should take the flag down at night unless you have the flag properly illuminated. This is a tough one that I’ve violated in the past. If you want to play by proper flag etiquette, then you need to install a small spot light.

What to do about flying the flag at half-staff? I’m not really sure how to do this on an angled staff. If possible I suppose you could fly it half way up as you would on a normal pole. I don’t know if this is possible with mine though. I thought I read once that you can furl the flag on the staff. I’m not sure if this is proper during times of half-staff display. If anyone knows the proper way to handle this, let me know. On Memorial Day itself the flag is to be flown at half-staff until noon.

Enjoy your three day weekend. But more than that… enjoy your freedom. Don’t take it for granted. Have a reverent Memorial Day.

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