WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita flag movement, a movement based on civic pride, has taken off.
“It symbolizes the spirit of the people of Wichita,” said local artist Johnny Freedom.
“It kind of brings people together,” said entrepreneur Janelle King.
“What it reminds me of is growing up here, all of the great memories that I have had,” said business owner Ben Hutton.
The Wichita flag was first introduced in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until recently the flag started gaining popularity. With its popularity, residents said it has started to change the way people view the City of Wichita.
“In the past, I think Wichita had kind of an inferiority complex. We didn’t like to talk about the good things that were going on. We liked to talk about the bad things and we liked to complain about our city instead of celebrating all of the fantastic things that happen here and I think the flag movement, everything around that and everything else going on in our city now is just really exciting because we have really turned the tide of what the conversation is,” said Hutton.
“You know, we are proud of this city. People want to share that. They want to show it and it gives a bonding point,” said Janelle King.
Hutton is on the Wichita Chamber of Commerce quality of life task force. As a local business owner too, Hutton said he has witnessed the attitude change in Wichita.
“If you look over the last few years, we have had a lot of real exciting things happen. We bought and paid for a brand new arena and that really kicked off a lot of other things,” Hutton said.
“Over the course of visiting Wichita, it just kept getting cooler. Wichita slowly, but surely became the place where I thought, you know, I want to come back here,” said Freedom.
Freedom was born and raised in Wichita. He moved out of state when he was 18 years old to join the Marine Corp. He spent nearly 20 years living in other areas of the nation. However, he would often come back and visit his family in Wichita. It was then, he realized Wichita had a lot to offer.
“I think what it is, is people became invested in our community. You know, we became invested in our own success as a community. People started investing and supporting local businesses, started developing areas that hadn’t been developed before like the Delano District and the downtown district and Old Town,” Freedom said.
With those new developments, Freedom and Hutton said they noticed a new sense of civic pride. The Wichita flag is now plastered on walls, t-shirts, coffee mugs and even license plates.
Janelle King owns the Workroom, a Wichita retail shop featuring products made by Wichita area artists and artisans. She and her staff started selling Wichita inspired patches several years ago.
“We were just making little patches and with it we would send a piece of paper with the entire history of the flag since its’ been around since the 30s and it was so unrecognizable in our town, so we just started doing that for like a dollar and they just started flying off the shelf because everybody was like I had no idea,” King said.
King’s shop now offers a wide variety of Wichita flag merchandise. She said she’s proud of what the flag symbolizes and how many people in the community have rallied around it.
“You know, we are proud of this city. People want to share that. They want to show it and it gives a bonding point. You see people all over town now. It kind of brings people together,” she said.
All three Wichitans agree they’re proud of what Wichita is and look forward to what the city will have to offer in the future.
“The mantra, we always said was nothing to do here and now we just like put it on the side of the building recently the hashtag plenty to do here. There is so much opportunity, so much going on,” King said.
“I am proud of what this city is becoming,” Freedom said.