We all know that Wichita’s got a pretty cool flag, but did you know it’s been named one of the best? That’s right! Our flag was part of a 2004 web-based survey by the North American Vexillological Association which asked the public to rank 150 city flags based on design.
When the results came in, they were favorable for Wichita, whose flag received an 8.41 out of 10 rating and a sixth place finish. Our flag trailed the winner, the Washington D.C. flag, by just 0.76 points. The second place through fifth place slots were earned by Chicago, Denver, Phoenix and St. Louis, respectively.
Wichita lead the way for Kansas, who was also the home state of the flag ranking 46th, the Topeka flag. Way to go, ICT!
The Wichita Flag
In 1937, the City of Wichita held a flag design contest, for which they offered a $40 prize, according to the WPD Facebook page. The winning design was submitted by Charles Cecil McAlister, a long-term resident of Wichita and a local artist. McAlister also ran a mural art studio out of his south Broadway home, according to askart.com.
What Does it Mean?
Sure, our flag looks cool, and it has a history of doing well in contests, but its design is no coincidence. The choices McAlister made were as bold and intentional as the colors he chose.
The flag features a blue sun from which red and white rays radiate. Blue was selected for the sun as it represents contentment and happiness. The red and white rays suggest freedom; paths to come and go as you please. The white symbol, emblazoned across the sun, is an Indian symbol for home.
So, our flag is not only cool to look at, it has a really significant meaning.
For decades, people were not familiar with our city’s flag. In recent years, however, the Wichita flag has taken ICT by storm, and “flag swag” is more common than not.
"The Wichita flag has become the symbol for growing pride in the city," said Johnny Freedom, a long-time Wichitan known for his painted Wichita flag products. "[It's] exciting because it's brought us together as a city. When I was a kid in the late 80's, I couldn't wait to get out of Wichita. There was nothing cool or interesting about Wichita to me. Many people have worked very hard to change that perception over the past 20 years and their hard work is showing."
In addition to bringing our city together, Freedom added that our flag is just plain cool.
"We have the coolest flag on the planet," said Freedom. "Let's be honest, it is cool. It's so cool it has its own Instagram page. It's so cool, people have shared pictures of the flag all over the world. It's so cool there are murals, paintings, and all kinds of products with the Wichita flag plastered on them. Even our local soccer team FC Wichita and the USS Wichita, a Freedom class combat ship, have incorporated the flag into their crests. To many people, the Wichita flag is something new, but it has been here all along. The Wichita flag isn't new, just no one knew about it. Every day more people learn about Wichita's awesome flag and with that knowledge the pride grows. A fun, exciting, and growing city AND a popular flag. What else could we ask for? We ask for people to keep it local. Continue to support local business. Keep Wichita money in Wichita. Keep the businesses coming, the ideas flowing, and the pride growing."
Where to Get It
Several local shops around town have started carrying Wichita flag merchandise. Of these the most notable is The Workroom, a retail shop at 150 N. Cleveland that specializes in flag swag.
You can also find local merchandise at many of Wichita’s local breweries, like the Hopping Gnome and Central Standard Brewing.
To find even more flag swag, check out the Wichita Flag Facebook page.