Pride Parade Tips: Portable Flagpoles

Flags are a must when you’re at Pride (even if you’re not marching!). They rise above the heads of the crowd, they’re colorful, and they say “I am here!” And when you’re aro or ace or anyone else with a non-rainbow flag, making a statement that “I am here!” is critically important.

The problem is that flagpoles are a pain. More specifically, getting the flagpole to and from the Pride event is a pain. Unless you happen to have a golf cart with you, hauling around a six foot pole all day is a non-trivial task. When you add in crowds and rides on public transit, the situation gets even worse.

So, what you need is a flagpole that collapses down and can fit in a backpack. They make telescoping flagpoles specifically for this purpose, but I have not had luck with them. I had one that was literally painful to use, due to a poorly designed clip. Then there was the one that kept collapsing itself during the parade, requiring constant adjustment. Other ones I’ve seen look incredibly flimsy. So I wanted something better.

The first thing I tried was PVC pipes. They sell threaded sprinkler pipes in two foot sections, and threaded couplers to connect them. Get three sections of that, and you have yourself a nice, strong flagpole that’s relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, the PVC isn’t telescoping, so when you break the pole down, you have three separate pipes you have to carry around. There’s also the problem that PVC pipes don’t have clips to attach the flag, but more on that shortly.

I needed something telescoping, so I’d only have to carry around one smaller item. I needed something relatively lightweight. I also needed something sturdy. Something like a monopod.

There are tons of sturdy, lightweight, relatively cheap monopods out there. This particular one also came with a carrying case, which can be a benefit when travelling to or from Pride. Hiking sticks might also work well.

Now, the problem with a monopod is that it’s not a flagpole. It doesn’t have any kind of clip to attach the flag to. One of the more common solutions is to use zip ties and tape. I’m not a fan of that method, though. It can only be used once, you need scissors or a knife to take it apart, and you end up with a sticky mess when you’re done with it all.

I prefer cable ties, like this one.

These are adjustable and reusable and easy to remove.

But, it’s not easy to attach or detach a flag when using a cable tie. You can’t just unclip it. You’d have to take the whole thing off just to take off the flag.

So, you need a clip.

Any clip will do. Carabiner, swivel hook, split ring, clasp, whatever. Anything that lets you easily attach and detach the flag.

So, you can see where I’m going with this, right? Put the clip on the cable tie, put the cable tie on the pole, and presto, instant flag clips!

Wrong!

You see, if you do that, you’ll have a cable tie that slips all over the place because cable ties might grip themselves, but they certainly do not grip a the smooth metal of a monopod.

You need something that does.

This is a non-slip furniture pad, but anything with a non-slip surface should work. Something like a jar opener or potholder pad, or maybe one of those counter liner rolls.

Once you’ve found your non-slip pad, cut out a piece, then cut two slits in the pad wide enough for the cable tie. Make one near either end, but be sure to leave enough material around the slit so the pad won’t tear apart.

Then thread the cable tie through the pad, then through the clip, then through the slit on the other side of the pad. If the pad you’re using only has the grippy non-slip surface on one side, make sure that side is facing “inward”, and the clip is on the non-grippy “outside”.

Now you have a reusable, non-slip clip. Time to put it on the pole and turn it into a flagpole!

Be sure to tighten the cable tie as much as you can. The non-slip surface won’t do much good unless it’s firmly gripping the monopod. Try sliding the clip around. It might still slide a little bit, but it should take quite a bit of force to get it to move.

For the bottom clip, you can either repeat the steps above, or you can skip the non-slip pad, and just go with the cable tie and clip. Gravity should help keep the bottom of the flag down. Personally, I’d do the non-slip pad on the bottom clip, too, to hold the flag’s edge tighter.

Congratulations, you now have a flagpole! Wave it with pride!

No, really, go wave it around like crazy right now. You’ll want to give it a good thorough test run to make sure it holds up. If there are any problems (like, say, the non-slip pad isn’t as grippy as it needs to be), it’s much better to find that out now while you can fix it than five minutes into marching in an hour and a half long parade.

And remember, it’s not just a flagpole, it’s a collapsible flagpole! Collapse the pole, roll the flag, and ride the subway or bus with ease!

2 thoughts on “Pride Parade Tips: Portable Flagpoles

    • That would probably be because they don’t.

      Oh, how I looked for them, but no, no one sells them anywhere. I literally had to sew one out of bedsheets so that we’d have one for Pride last year.

      This year, I wanted to have grayromantic and demiromantic flags at Pride, but I didn’t want to have to sew them, as well. I decided to get some custom printed and got the gray-ace flag printed, too.

      So yeah, this might be the only one that exists at the moment… (Well, and my handmade one from last year.) I’ve ordered more so that I can hand them out at local meetups and plan to bring some to the conference in June for people to take back to their groups.

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