A group of volunteers cruised Corona del Mar early on the Fourth of July, installing about 120 flags along East Coast Highway to celebrate Independence Day.
"God bless America," Ray Kilz of Balboa Island said while he jogged in a fine mist to install another flag.
The tradition began years ago; the volunteers don't remember exactly when. The group gathers about 6 a.m. seven times a year on patriotic holidays and Sept. 11. They divide into teams, trying to beat their records for installing the flags quickly.
On Wednesday, after about 40 minutes, the group gathered at Pain Du Monde for their traditional coffee break.
"This is family here," said volunteer Vaughn Barnes of Corona del Mar.
Barnes said he was thinking about his son, Andrew Barnes, as he installed the flags. His son is aU.S. Armymedic in Afghanistan.
"I was Skyping him Friday, and I head mortars," Barnes said. "He said he had to go, had to get into a bunker … "