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Holliston - Local Town Pages

Holliston flag policy prohibits “third-party flags” from being flown on town-owned properties, including Town Hall

Such flags can be flown at Blair Square with Select Board approval

By Theresa Knapp 
The Holliston Select board voted unanimously to approve a new flag policy on January 22, 2024. Under this new policy, “all town-owned flag poles and buildings are restricted to the United States, POW/MIA, State and Town flags, with the exception of the flag pole at Blair Square.”
The purpose of the new policy, which can be found at, is to provide “guidelines for the Town’s flying or displaying, on Town of Holliston-owned properties, the flag of the United States of America, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as any other flags deemed appropriate by the Town for parades, holidays, and other events and celebrations.”
The full policy can be found at
In December, the board met with special counsel Jay Talerman to discuss the 2022 Supreme Court decision Shurtleff, et al. v. City of Boston, et al. In that case, Shurtleff wanted to fly a religious flag on the third flagpole in front of Boston City Hall. The city refused claiming it could violate the Establishment Clause and could constitute ‘government speech.’ Shurtleff said that violated the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause and sued the city. 
Read the case here: Holliston’s new policy prohibits anyone from flying a third-party flag on town property except in one location - Blair Square, the corner of Central and Railroad Streets – where a third-party individual or organization can fly a flag for a certain amount of time. 
The policy applies to all town buildings but does not apply to the Holliston Public Schools. It also does not apply to utility poles which are owned by the utility companies. 
At the January meeting, it was noted that Saint Patrick’s Day buntings would be displayed at Town Hall in March because that request was approved before the flag policy went into place. 
Before the board approved the policy in January, Chair John Cronin said, “It seems to achieve what we’re trying to do which is a good balance between public comment, public expression, public speech, and government speech as the Supreme Court asked communities to consider.” 
After the board approved the policy, several residents contacted board members to express their dissatisfaction, signed a petition to that effect, and asked for the issue to be put on a future agenda. 

At its meeting on March 4, the Select Board heard from the public in person and via Zoom for 1.75 hours regarding the matter, with most comments focused specifically on the pride flag. 
In her final comments before the vote, board member Tina Hein said, “I understand that this board has taken a position in the draft that we have tonight to review, and potentially take a vote on, that is unpopular with the people in the room and the people on the Zoom call.” 
After an oftentimes contentious discussion, the board ultimately kept the policy language approved in January and substituted eight words - related to obtaining an application form to fly a flag at Blair Square - with “for which the Select Board may publish an annual calendar with a proposed schedule for the flying of flags.” 
The board also approved the 2024 “Blair Square flag pole schedule” which “is intended as a communication document from the Select Board to the community for advance planning of events related to future flag raising(s); the schedule is non-binding and ultimately the Select Board may choose to fly flag(s) for the purpose of government speech on the flag pole at its discretion.” 
And the board voted to purchase a progress pride flag to fly at Blair Square, since the flag that has been flown in the past had been on loan from an independent organization.