SANDY — A Sandy family came to the rescue of a massive American flag that usually flies high in Little Willow Canyon over the weekend.

“It represents all of me. I’m a proud American,” said 14-year-old Will Nord, who climbed up the mountain with his father, sister and other neighbors to figure out what happened to the flag. “We had to kind of make our own path and be safe on the journey.”

It was Saturday afternoon when Darren Nord noticed the flag was missing from the canyon and called on his family and others to help.

Every year for the past eight years, the community gathers during the Fourth of July holiday to put up the 50-pound flag. The 30-by-60 flag remains flying through the first Saturday after Pioneer Day.

Herald Haugan started the tradition after seeing communities in Europe fly their flag in mountainous areas.

Since he started, the flag has been vandalized three times. The latest was in 2019, when one of the anchors was destroyed.

“It’s really disappointing that someone would do that,” Haugan said.

Haugan happened to be out of town the weekend it vanished.

The Nord family didn’t know what to expect as they climbed the mountain to figure out what happened.

“We didn’t know what we would encounter,” said Nord. “If there were actually active vandals still in the canyon, that we might run into them, that was really scary.”

But they knew they needed to act.

“It was important to me and my family,” said 18-year-old Lexi Nord, who was the first to spot the flag lying on a cliff.

The problem was the backpack the family brought up was too small hold the flag.

“I said a silent prayer and I said, ‘Heavenly Father, we need your help,’ and that’s when my daughter said, ‘Let’s use our belts to tie it all up,’” said Darren Nord.

Luckily, the belts worked, and Nord and his son started the long climb back down the mountain, carrying the flag. It turned out to be a 3 1/2-hour rescue in broiling heat.

“To have them endure through all that, that was pretty impressive,” Nord said about his kids.

Turns out it wasn’t vandalism, but a broken rope.

Darren Nord, of Sandy, along with family and neighbors, fold a 30-by-60 American flag that is usually flown in Little Willow Canyon during July. The flag fell after a worn-out rope snapped. | John Wilson, Deseret News


The flag will not be put back up until next year because the rope needs to be specially ordered.

Haugan said 500 feet of one-quarter-inch plasma rope that can handle 8,000 pounds is needed to fly the flag

“Of all years for it to come down, this year I believe was special to be able to fly it. I’m just sad we couldn’t have kept it up longer,” he said.

A Venmo account, @Darren-Nord, has been set up for those wanting to help pay for getting the flag back on the mountain.