Yddo Ortiz, owner of Mop & Broom Associates and an organizing and founding member of the Keene Chamber of Commerce, is the guest speaker for the chamber's monthly luncheon at noon Thursday at the Keene Senior Center.
Doors open at 11:30 a.m.
The luncheon will be catered by Olivia Hall. Admission is $10 per person.
This month's luncheon is sponsored by Sharon Vaughn, owner of Hearts & Flowers located at 314 S. Old Betsy Road.
Ortiz's presentation is titled “Coming to America.”
Ortiz is a longtime resident who loves the American flag so much that he organized and continues to manage the campaign to have the Stars and Stripes line Keene's main street on holidays — more than 220 flags so far — a passion that earned him Keene Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2006.
Ortiz, who was 18 years old and did not speak English when he arrived in Keene in 1960 to attend school, is so proud of the U.S. flag and the opportunities it represents that he once wrote a poem about the flag and sent it to President Ronald Reagan.
Ortiz, owner of Zitro Inc., (Ortiz spelled backwards, dba Mop and Broom Cleaning Service) was recognized by the chamber for being “a model citizen who has given dedicated and extensive service to individuals, organizations, and the community on a continued basis,” according to the award's wording.
On June 25, 1985, Ortiz sent a letter to President Reagan that included a patriotic poem Ortiz wrote about how living in American inspired him to become the best he can be.
Two months later, Reagan replied, saying that “among the many pieces of mail I receive each day, I am especially touched by your message.”
Ortiz has become known for the cleaver costumes he creates for Keene's Independence Day and Christmas Light parades.
One year he was “Air Horse One,” appearing as George W. Bush atop a horse to which were attached airplane-like wings. Walking along side were four youths dressed in dark suits and sunglasses, pretending to be Secret Service agents.
His parade persona includes a giant Slinky, Uncle Sam, and, in this year's Fourth of July Parade, a cowpoke on horseback herding “cattle” (local business people and elected officials) down Old Betsy Road.
Ortiz's campaign to line Old Betsy Road with U.S. flags on holidays and special occasions has received acclaim from around the county.
He arranges for the purchase, assembly and storage of the flags and organizes the ceremonies when the flags are set in place.