The Pole.

Ski Demski, Peppy, and The Pole

Field review by the editors.

Long Beach, California

Thomas "Ski" Demski was a former coal miner, a lover of the American flag, and a pain in the rear to the city of Long Beach. In 1980, outside Ski's house, on a busy street corner, he erected a 132-foot-tall flagpole, named "The Pole," from which flew a 30x60-foot flag. The city tried to have it removed, claiming it was a sign (which it wasn't), then saying that the flapping flag kept people awake at night (which was true). Demski refused, and even ran for mayor -- three times -- in protest, appearing at one debate in a suit jacket with his blue parrot, Peppy, on his shoulder.

Ski Demski and parrot pal Peppy.

Ski had lots of supporters (although most of them were probably not within earshot of his flag). On St. Patrick's Day 2000 sculptor Larry Stokes unveiled a tribute to Demski at the base of The Pole, capturing Ski the way he looked at the debate, with his Santa Claus beard, headband, and his parrot, Peppy, on his jacket shoulder.

Ski declined into poor health and ended his life with painkillers in early 2002. By Ski's request, his viewing was held in his garage, with Ski in a plexiglass, mirrored coffin, so that mourners could admire his many flag tattoos one last time.

Years have passed, and although a flag no longer flaps from The Pole, it's still there, along with bronze Demski and Peppy. Ski's ashes are there, too: encased within the metal eagle at the top of The Pole.

Ski Demski, Peppy, and The Pole

Address:
402 Lime Ave., Long Beach, CA
Directions:
On the east side of Lime Ave., just north of its intersection with E. 4th St.
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