Manchester aldermen look at redesign of the city flagBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
August 16. 2016 11:39PM
MANCHESTER — Aldermen signed off Tuesday on setting up a committee to solicit designs for a new civic flag for Manchester, while making no promises the effort would actually result in a new banner for the Queen City.
While openly disagreeing on the need for a new city flag, members of the Aldermanic Committee on Administration and Information Systems voted unanimously to put together a committee to go forward and ask the community to submit designs, saying the exercise could generate a boatload of civic pride, if not a new banner.
“I want to be Simon Cowell, (Nick) Pappas can be Howie Mandell, and we can have ‘Manchester’s Got Talent,’ ” said Alderman-at-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur. “We can have some fun with this.”
Board of Mayor and Aldermen Chairman Pat Long of Ward 3 told committee members he was approached by city resident Adam Hlasny with the idea for a citywide effort to design a new flag for Manchester. Hlasny said he was inspired by a TED talk given by Roman Mars, the host of a design and architecture radio show. In the talk Mars said while there is something powerful and unifying about a well-designed city flag, there are a lot of badly designed ones.
“There’s been an effort around the country to redesign city flags,” said Long. “Right now, if someone comes here from Merrimack, they don’t know they’re looking at the city flag. Chicago has a very identifiable flag. When I watch a news item and see that flag, I know they are talking about Chicago.”
Alderman Nick Pappas asked about the price tag for creating new flags. According to City Clerk Matt Normand, each municipal flag costs $130.
“I don’t see this as a need or even an issue,” said Pappas. “I can’t name a city, besides Chicago, that I can recognize the flag and I don’t really care. I would be shocked if 90 percent of the residents in Manchester even knew we had a city flag.”
“I think it’s a great way to generate civic involvement and pride,” said Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Cavanaugh. “If we get students involved — elementary, middle and high school — even if we keep the flag we have, it’s a great civics lesson.”
Manchester’s current flag — consisting of the city seal on a white background — was created in 1846.
“We’re a different city now,” said Long. “I think it’s the right time to consider this change.”
In 2004 the North American Vexillological Association — a group that specializes in the study of flags — conducted an American City Flags Survey, seeking public opinion on 150 city flag designs. Manchester’s flag ranked 118th out of 150.
Ward 7 Alderman Bill Shea asked how many locations in Manchester actually display the city flag.
“Some of our public properties, Manchester properties, don’t display our flag,” said Long. “I don’t know why all of Manchester’s properties, including our schools, don’t display our flag.”
Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann voiced opposition to the call for new designs, saying the current flag is something he respects and holds dear. “I come from a historical perspective,” said Hirschmann. “I think for the sake of history that we owe it to our forefathers to keep our city flag.”
After the vote, Long said he would begin contacting various groups around the city about putting together a committee to oversee the design submission effort.