Flags are unique banners under which communities rally around to celebrate their high times and achievements. And just like any other city, the city of Wichita is no exception.
Early this year, Wichita’s city flag turned 81, and it has never been more popular and visible than it is today. Adopted in 1937 on the infamous flag day, the blue, white, and red flag is not only apparent in its natural flag state but also widely replicated on T-shirts, murals, bumper stickers, license plates, and even tattoos, many of which we create every day.
As a Wichita native—born and bred here, I have come across many myths surrounding my city’s flag. For this reason, I decided to try and unearth the history and symbolism behind the flag.
History of the Flag
The history of the flag is an interesting one considering it started as simple collaboration when the city’s manager asked the American Legion to conduct a citywide flag design contest. The rotary club floated a cash prize and organized a special event for the winning design.
Working together with civic organizations, creatives, and educators, the city manager had to look for the right flag design whereby a local artist by the name of Cecil McAlister emerged the winner.
His creative design utilized the patriotic American colors with a twist of Native American symbolism, a reference to the rich diversity of the state of Kansas.
Documents from the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce try to offer an explanation of the different symbols on the flag that makes it striking.
- The Hogan in the middle of the flag is an American Indian symbol that represents a permanent home – in this case, Wichita city.
- The white circle is a manifestation of the sun whereas the white stripes that radiate from the circle are a symbol of courage.
- Lastly, the red and white stripes together represent honor and virtue.
With such creativity behind the winning design, McAlister received a cash prize of $40. And although that’s not much for creating an emblem that most people continue to resonate with to this day, he would be proud in knowing that his contribution has contributed a lot towards our city’s culture.
Even though the Wichita city flag was officially adopted 81 years, it has not always been a highly visible symbol on our city’s landscape. Only a few government buildings like the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, the City Hall, Labor Party, Hotel at Old Town, and Abode Venue were flying the flag.
The Major Come Back of the Flag
Courtney Sendall a communications manager with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce was recently quoted saying,” For the last 5 years, there has been a resurgence of the Wichita City Flag. And although it took long for flag fever to take off, the journey has already started”.
True to that, many local artists and organizations are incorporating flag elements in their work and logos. For instance, the ICT Army of artists has been encouraging artists to create vibrant public artworks full of creativity and the spirit of justice to the entire neighborhoods in the city by incorporating flag related arts in their work. That notwithstanding, FC Wichita the National Premier Soccer League team, has incorporated the flag’s elements into their logo. Other organizations following the same suit are Legacy Bank and We Are Wichita, with the sole aim of publicizing the flag.
A few years ago, I was also lucky to attend the Fuel the Fire speaker series. Most of the speakers emphasized that a lot more needed to be done towards amplifying our support in Wichita city. Of particular importance, they reminded everyone to be vocal about what makes our city the best place and even encourage those who are not physically present in the city but still trace their origin here to participate in the course.
It shouldn’t then come as a surprise that there are multiple Twitter and Instagram accounts specifically dedicated to creating awareness about our City’s flag as part of civic pride campaign.
Is this Flag Fever Sustainable?
For a long while, Wichita has been looking for something to rally behind and we found it in our city’s flag. Once ranked as the sixth best city flag by the North American Vexillological Association, it has gorgeous symmetry that is perfectly tied with the colors. The fact that it also incorporates the ancient symbols and other non-objective symbols go to show the simple yet complex artistry that the city has produced over time.
Millennials being the heart of Wichita have largely been credited for reviving the flag’s awareness which has resulted in the now infamous flag fever. The older generation efforts cannot be underscored as they have also joined the bandwagon and are helping to push the envelope further by proudly showing all the positive changes happening within Wichita.
The business community hasn’t been left behind either…
More than ever, it’s now easier to find or city’s flag in a wide range of sizes at different price points in retailers like Logo Depot, The Workroom, Henry Helgerson Co, and Wings of the Wind Kites & Toys. Retailers like Wings of the Wind say they have gone from selling a single flag per month in 2014 to more than a 100 per month in 2018. They stock up for Christmas season where the demand is always at a record high and have also reported a steep demand for new apparels like desktop flags and Wichita flag kite.
The fact that this new movement continues to fuel more artists to sell flag-inspired creations, the flag fever isn’t expected to slow down any time soon. As we approach Christmas, I encourage you to buy more of Wichita flag inspired products and encourage your family, friends, and co-workers to follow suit and share the same to the world to encourage those who have already moved away from the city to continue contributing towards the development of their city. Of course, if we can help you produce any of these items from custom logo items, to screen printing or embroidery, give us a call!