When you make the life changing decision to become a citizen of a country you weren’t born in, it’s not something you take lightly. It’s not a decision you forget making. You take an oath and promise allegiance to that country. When Bernhard Brenner became a citizen of the United States, he took that decision—that pledge—to heart. He embraced the tenants of democracy and the possibility of the American Dream, and worked hard daily to achieve it.
In 1976, during the celebration of our country’s Bicentennial, Mr. Brenner knew he wanted to be part of that celebration. By this time, his company had been in business for 16 years, and was strong and growing. Each year, the local community has a summer parade, and it was decided that St. Croix would be represented. But we’re not talking about papier-mâché floats. This is a knitting company, after all.
The employees of the St. Croix brand created a flag featuring the 1976 Bicentennial version of the Stars & Stripes. But this wasn’t a typical flag. It was super sized—as big as Mr. Brenner’s sense of pride and love for his country. Fully handcrafted, the flag came in at a whopping 28×50 feet! Just like every garment coming out of the factory, the giant flag received the full inspection treatment. And when completed, it proudly took its place on the side of the building waiting for the parade day. It was a big statement!
But sadly that flag never got its moment in the sun during the 1976 Bicentennial parade. It was stolen. Stolen! Taken right off the side of the building! Sadly the prank/theft mystery was never solved, even though there was a reward offered and a dedicated police detective determined to solve the crime. Officer LaVern Hauschildt actually worked on this mystery for years, even up until his retirement, without resolution.
Frustrated and shocked but undaunted, the employees volunteered to remake this flag in time for the parade. Working through the weekend, they managed to produce the second version of the most enormous, hand-crafted flag any of them had ever seen. This one stayed safe and sound, and was prepped and ready to go by parade time.
The children of the employees carried the flag in the parade, and it was a special event. To the employees, this flag demonstrated their pride: for their work, the company they worked for, and the country they loved. The larger-than-life American flag made an impression in the minds of all that saw it. It was a great day!
And that day has just been repeated. The thirty-nine year old flag has been in the good care of the local historical society for many years, but was pulled out of the archives to once again be joyfully carried in our local parade—looking just as vibrant as it did in 1976. This year, there were no stolen flags to recreate. Just happy employees with their friends and family donning white gloves and lots of enthusiasm on a beautiful Minnesota summer day. Mr. Brenner looked pretty happy too—driving his vintage 1965 Shelby Cobra (that he rebuilt himself) in the parade with his wife Colleen next to him. A smaller version of our hand-knit flag rested carefully on the back of that legendary All-American car.
The icing on the cake was winning an award for our entry in the parade! Our thanks to the Goodview Days Parade Committee for this award!
This year we’re not celebrating our country’s birthday, but our own—55 years of business! We’re thrilled to be a thriving, American-made company. And we’re still celebrating and demonstrating pride: in our work, the company we work for, and the country we love. This too, was a great day.