A flag drop, designed by John Novello and Rob Galluzzo,...

A flag drop, designed by John Novello and Rob Galluzzo, sits in front of Cedarhurst Village Hall to allow residents to leave retired American flags. (April 17, 2012) Credit: Brittany Wait

Cedarhurst residents who drop off retired or worn American flags at Village Hall witness a unique piece of art while properly disposing of Old Glory.

In 2004, Mayor Andrew J. Parise asked the local post office to donate a mailbox to turn it into the village’s first flag drop. In prior years, residents would bring their worn flags to Village Hall during office hours so they could be taken to Nassau County officials for ceremonial burning.

“It’s one of the things, being a veteran myself and being active in veteran affairs, that just seemed like the right thing to do,” said Parise, who served in the Army’s 87th infantry division combat engineers during World War II.

Soon after the donation, Parise asked local architect John Novello, 43, to paint a patriotic design on the flag drop.

“It was possibly un-American or shameful to have an American flag in bad shape and to throw it in the garbage,” said Novello, of Cedarhurst. “We now have a flag drop where a flag could be placed in and disposed of specially.”

It took Novello a month to paint the mailbox white, sketch the drawings with grease pencil and use acrylic and enamel paints to design the Statue of Liberty, Captain America and other images.

Novello’s cousin, Rob Galluzzo, 35, who now lives in Los Angeles, helped him sketch and paint the flag drop. Galluzzo grew up reading comics, said Novello, which sparked the idea of painting Captain America on the flag drop.

“I was honored to be chosen to paint it,” Novello said. “I was inspired by our country’s traditions and accomplishments.”

The only drawback is an extra mayoral task for Parise.

“Unfortunately, I have to check it often because some people put in letters,” he said.

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