Wichita's official city flag was adopted in 1937. Designed by a local artist from South Wichita Cecil McAlister, it represents freedom, happiness, contentment and home.
The blue sun in the center represents happiness and contentment. The Native American symbol for permanent 'home' is stitched on the blue sun. The three red and white rays that alternate from the off-center blue sun represent the path of freedom to come and go as one pleases.
Selected from more than 100 entries that were submitted for a city flag design contest, it was officially adopted on Flag Day, June 14, 1937, by Mayor T. Walker Weaver. The first Wichita flag was produced by local seamstress Mary J. Harper. It flew for the first time on July 23, 1937, over City Hall.
The early 20th century was a difficult time for the young city of Wichita. It saw the ups and downs of the oil industry, the Great Depression, the boom of the aircraft industry and rapid growth and expansion of manufacturing jobs during World War II. The cycle of innovation and invention throughout Wichita generated numerous taglines, catchphrases, and monikers. From Cowtown to Doo Dah to the first claim of the world title: The Broomcorn Capital, left Wichita feeling outdated and out of touch with larger cities.
With the varied aircraft industry and test center for aviation moving into town, Wichita was soon dubbed the "Air Capital of the World." However, after the Depression and the Dust Bowl sweeping through the city, city leaders determined that Wichita needed more than a slogan, but something visual - a flag.
The forefathers of Wichita generated the idea to hold a contest for local Wichitans to design a flag. A panel of artists was gathered to judge the submitted designs and a variety winnings were offered. Over 100 submissions were received and the panel of judges went to work determining the next identity associated with Wichita. Cecil McAlister was selected as the winner and the grand prize of $40 was handed out.
On June 14, 1937, Mayor T. Walker Weaver announced the winning design and adopted it as the official flag of Wichita. The next step: making it visually known. A seamstress was selected to create the first flags. Mary J. Harper, the Betsy Ross of Wichita, had her work cut out for her to piece together the complicated design. After a day had passed, Harper had created the first flag of Wichita, and, when it was all said and done, six for the city of Wichita.
The first flag was raised up on the pole at the City Hall on July 23, 1937.
The flag has been an official symbol of Wichita since 1937 but very few Wichitans are familiar with it or even know what it is. Throughout the past few years, Wichitans have been voicing their pride for their city and becoming more vocal about what makes Wichita the best place to establish and form companies, careers, and families. The Wichita flag is now being flown at a number of places: businesses, schools, and neighborhoods.