McHenry County man ticketed for flying American flags outside his business

A McHenry County restaurant owner says he’s being ticketed for flying the American flag in front of his business.

But the village of Prairie Grove says it’s where he’s flying the flag that’s causing the problem.

Now, the flag fight has gone viral on social media.

Terry Trobiani says he was just trying to celebrate the Fourth of July when he placed two American flags on wooden poles in front of Gianelli’s, his hot dog and beef business along Highway 176.

"The next day the village administrator comes in and he gives me a pamphlet of the sign ordinance pertaining to flags," said Trobiani. "He says you might want to read this."

But just one day later, Trobiani says the village of Prairie Grove gave him two tickets for "improper display." Those tickets are now taped to his restaurant’s front door.

"The American flag is a symbol of patriotism," said Trobiani. "It’s not a sign. They’re equating it with open/closed. Dine in, sign out."


But Prairie Grove Village President David Underwood says the citations have nothing to do with patriotism.

"I love the United States flag. I’m a patriot myself," he said.

Underwood says Trobiani got ticketed because the flags were illegally too close to the road and could’ve blown into traffic.

"I think it’s disgraceful," said Underwood. "Because he’s using the American flag as a tool to further his business interests."

The flag fight has gone viral on social media, and Trobiani says he’s getting hundreds of messages of support. There have been crowds of people waving flags rallying at his business.

"We had 50 people out here Saturday with trucks, horns, speakers, signs, support small business, support the American flag," said Trobiani.

The two ordinance violations total up to a fine of $200. Trobiani says he’s hired a lawyer and plans to fight it in Municipal Court next month, even if it costs him more money to fight than simply pay.