Kris Long

Kris Long.

On the days leading up to Labor Day weekend, the Town Common will be carpeted by nearly 8,000 multi-colored miniature flags to raise awareness of those who lost their lives to addictions in Massachusetts over the past four years.

Spearheaded by Foxboro Jaycees, the local display is being planned in conjunction with Overdose Awareness Day, a global event held each year on Aug. 31 and dedicated to helping eliminate overdose deaths.

“When you go and see a flag representing your own loved one it shows that somebody cares,” said organizer Kris Long of Foxboro, a past Jaycee president currently serving on the local board of directors. “It validates their experiences” as well as the heartache.

Accompanied fellow Jaycee Linda Walsh, Long appeared before selectmen last week seeking permission to use the Common, both for the multi-day memorial display and an 11 a.m. gathering at the Common bandstand on Sunday, Sept. 1 featuring entertainment, information and speakers focusing on the addictions crisis.

“I just want to bring to light that a lot of lives have been lost,” said Long, whose two children have struggled with addiction-related issues.

Billed as “The Stakes are High: Remembering Those Lost to the Crisis,” Long said she hopes the Sept. 1 event will include prospective speakers like local legislators Paul Feeney and Jay Barrows, addicts now in recovery sharing their personal stories, and even Gov. Charlie Baker, who has made the opioid crisis a focus of his administrative agenda.

Walsh told selectmen the green, blue, yellow and purple lawn flags will be located on the north end of the Common surrounding the bandstand, with different colors designating the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 grouped separately into four sections in between the spoked walkways.

The flags will be accompanied by small lawn signs purchased by sponsors to help offset costs that will present facts about the opioid crisis.

Due to backlogs and other difficulties in confirming many deaths by overdose, Long said a precise number is virtually impossible to establish. However, she said the cumulative number for the four years in question will be between 7,800 and 8,000 deaths.

“Because of that these numbers can never really be final,” Long said. “People don’t always understand that.”

According Long, the effect will hopefully evoke similar sentiments to recent memorial galleries which blanket landscapes with thousands of small flags in honor of American service personnel.

“It’s a reflection,” she said. “It’s not meant to be somber.”

Walsh assured board members it would not disrupt the weekly Thursday-night Farmer’s Market held on the south end of the Common.

“I hope it’s something that is going to grab people’s attention,” Long observed.

“I think it will be an outstanding reality check,” agreed Selectmen Chairman Mark Elfman.

Long, who works for Gatehouse Treatment, a multi-facility drug treatment program located in Nashua, N.H., is also attempting to arrange for actor and filmmaker Mark Wahlberg to document the summer-end event in Foxboro.

Wahlberg’s youth foundation was instrumental in producing “The Circle of Addiction: A Different Kind of Tears,” a 2018 documentary filmed in Manchester, N.H. to raise awareness about the dangers associated with prescription drug misuse and abuse and the dangers of addiction.

That documentary was written and directed by Jim Wahlberg, the actor’s brother, who has his own history with addiction. More info at: