Benicia couple spray paints lawn like American flag in dramatic show of patriotism

A couple in Benicia has found a dramatic way to celebrate Independence Day: spray-painting their lawn like an American flag.

"It took a little while and about four of us to do," said Erin McKay Schnell, who noticed her front yard had the flat rectangular shape of a flag.

"It wasn't as easy as we thought it would be," Erin and husband Jonathan admit.  

With two friends, the couple spent about  seven hours on the project one hot, windy day in June.

"We definitely under-estimated the amount of paint needed," said Erin, recalling how they scoured three stores buying up every can of red, white, and blue marking paint.

They went through 40 cans in order to cover the green grass with stars and stripes.

"It was expensive, it definitely wasn't cheap," smiled Erin.

The end result, she said, is worth it.

Erin is a fifth-generation Benician who enlisted in the U.S. Army after high school and served for 5 years, including deployments in Iraq.

She wants people to remember the meaning of Independence Day.

"Definitely stop and take a pause and appreciate."

And honoring the flag is important to her. 

"I just wanted to show a bit of patriotism since we weren't able to last year due to COVID."

Heading into the weekend, another dozen cans were needed for touch-ups ahead of the 4th.

As word has spread, the flag has become a local attraction. 

"People drive by, stop, get out, take pictures, it  makes us very happy to see people enjoying it," said Erin.

Jonathan enjoys their comments.

"They say it's amazing,  they honk, say great job, clap and give a thumbs up."

The couple's porch and windows are decorated too, and their display is entered in a Spirit of Benicia" contest.

But that wasn't their main motivation.

They hope to inspire others, as so many Independence Day activities remain muted this year.

"Even though we can't celebrate with fireworks and parades, go ahead and decorate your front yard and show some patriotism and bring a smile to people's faces," urged Erin.

In time, the paint will fade as the grass grows and the lawn is mowed.

But the pair may make the flag an annual tradition, and possibly decorate the lawn for Veteran's Day and Memorial Day too.

They are tickled to see the bold aerial view from the SkyFox helicopter.

"I think it looks awesome, I didn't expect it to look this good to be honest, so I was super-happy with how it turned out," enthused Erin.

The lawn flag is on display at 57 La Cruz Avenue in Benicia.