GARDINER (AP) – Police responding to a call about a few American flags floating in a Kennebec River tributary Saturday got a shock when they fished 41 of the flags out of the water.

The Gardiner Police Department received a call at about 7:45 a.m. with a report of five or six flags floating in the Cobbossee Stream.

When Officer Scott MacMaster arrived, he walked out on a railroad trestle and saw the flags caught on pilings in about six feet of water about 20 feet from where the stream enters the Kennebec.

He used a converted logging hook and some rope and began pulling the nylon flags out of the water. When he was done an hour and a half later, he had 41 of them.

They each measured 4 feet by 8 feet, were manufactured by Chicago Flag Co. and are valued at about $100 each, he said.

“It’s like the flag gods dropped them,” MacMaster said. “It’s really weird.”

MacMaster said the flags appeared nearly new, but had been used because the flags’ hook rings were somewhat worn.

He said he suspects somebody dumped the flags in the stream, possibly from a nearby concrete walkway that crosses the stream nearby.

MacMaster called all the local police departments in the area, but none were aware of any flag thefts.

He has also sent a teletype to every police and sheriff’s department in the state.

“We have no clue how they got there,” he said.

Erin Leathers said she could see the stars and stripes in the water when she discovered the flags while walking over the bridge.

“I was disappointed and very sad when I saw them,” she said. “I was in awe and in shock that something like this could happen.”

AP-ES-06-07-03 2002EDT

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