More towns are beginning to design personal town flag to represent their culture.
One year ago a community member of Peru, Massachusetts made a snap decision that left a lasting impact on the whole town. That local, Christine Richards, acts as a part-time clerk in her city of around 850 Peruvians. This small town includes a volunteer fire department, one flashing yellow light, and little else.
Richards contacted one other fellow Peruvian and together both ladies designed the newly branded flag that introduced Peru to the whole country. The flag depicts the snowy mountain landscape and 1771, the year the town was officially incorporated. With this flag, Peru takes its place among the 321 Massachusetts cities and towns that proudly hang flags in the Great Hall, right below the golden dome of the State House upon Beacon Hill.
As the newest addition to the flag collection, the town of Peru followed a trend that continues to sweep other smaller towns around the state. Towns do not necessarily need flags of their own. However, lawmakers insist a flag instills pride among the community and will serve as a constant reminder to the rest of the world that these municipalities matter. Richards believes their new flag will do just that since “we’re a small town and a lot of times people don’t even know where Peru is. We just felt like we should be represented along with all the other towns.”
A Senator for a nearby town, Benjamin B. Downing, made town flags a personal mission of his three years ago when he notices 20/48 towns in the Western Massachusetts district lacked a flag of their own. The Great Hall simply displayed empty flag poles for each missing flag. Downing took it upon himself to contact the appropriate people from each town, many of whom had no clue of their missing local symbol. But, from their many towns formed special committees or held contests in order to decide on the right flag design.
However simple the request may sound, Downing says he is under no illusion the Bay community will make it to a full 351 flags. In fact, the state initially asked for flags from each municipality over two decades ago when the former governor realized that hanging flags was an easy fix to a poor acoustic problem. North American Vexillogical Association president Hugh L. Brady commented that New England already had a prior tradition of municipal flags, often showing off rich pastoral imagery.
Not all flags can be winners though. An online survey ranked the Washington D.C. flag as the most aesthetically pleasing, followed closely by Chicago. Boston came in at an embarrassing 133rd place out of 150.
Some towns have jumped at the chance to show off their civic pride with a personal flag, while others are less excited about the task. Karen Amanti, a 49-year-old graphic artists from the town of East Otis won a contest and the chance to design a flag for her community in 2009. Her idea included iconic landscape that she believes makes the town appear like a much fuller destination. When her flag was finally released to the public, the town soon ran out and began ordering more. Amanti, and other community members, see the flag as a symbol of personal pride for the place they call home.
Credit: Boston Globe