It was 79 years ago tomorrow (National Flag Day) that our city’s flag was officially adopted. Elements of the flag were incorporated in this year’s River Festival buttons and in murals that were painted downtown this spring. It’s fairly commonplace to see several people wearing flag lapel pins at official community gatherings and you’ll find the flag waving in many neighborhoods these days. The flag even has its own social media accounts (@wichitaflag). But that hasn’t always been the case.
An article in the Lawrence Journal‐World (dated October 7, 2004), noted that while Wichita’s official city flag was ranked sixth among 150 flags in a 2004 North American Vexillological Association American City Flag survey, it wasn’t even being flown over City Hall at the time. A representative of local flag supplier Helgerson Co. stated in the article that the company had sold less than a dozen Wichita flags.
Over the years some local artists have shown their appreciation for the city’s timeless flag design by Wichitan Cecil B. McAllister. Artist Chris Gulick wrote about the flag in a local publication in 2003, and collaborated with others to raise awareness about it. At that time the flag was only flown a handful of places in Wichita and Gulick said he was told by officials, “People don’t understand it. They don’t know what it means.” Gulick had ornamental license plates printed with the flag, but said, “We couldn’t give them away.”
Fast forward to 2015. A resurgence of pride in Wichita started gaining momentum last year and our community’s unique flag became the logical rallying point. And in one short year, Wichita is raging with flag fever. Gulick commented about the recent “birth” rather than “resurgence” of interest in the Wichita flag during an interview with local radio station KMUW in December, 2015. He said, “It’s huge. It’s a rolling train and you’re not going to stop it now.”
During the last twelve months our flag has become a highly visible part of our city’s landscape thanks to so many Wichitans who are sharing their love for this community. It’s a symbol of our pride in the people, experiences and places that make Wichita special. Most importantly, it’s a tangible reminder that regardless of our differences, we are connected to each other and can move forward faster when we champion our community together.
–Looking for some flag swag to show your Wichita pride? Check out ilovewichita.org
–Wondering about the ten most popular #WichitaFlag images that have been posted in the last twelve months? Check the @WichitaFlag Instagram account.