A Fresh Flag for Ann Arbor’s Bicentennial: City Launches Design Competition


October 20, 2023




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(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) —The city of Ann Arbor announced this month a competition to replace its current flag designed in 1959. Residents are asked to submit their creations for consideration by Nov. 3.

The goal is to replace the current flag for the city’s bicentennial celebration next year with one that is more unique and symbolic. The current flag consists of three horizontal yellow stripes on a white background, with the city’s seal left-of-center. The seal features a tree, which is a representation of the city’s nickname, “Tree Town,” due to its many trees and commitment to environmental conservation. 

After submissions close at 5 p.m. on Nov. 3, a panel of judges will select six finalists who will be awarded $200 each. Their submissions will be displayed online and at City Hall beginning Nov. 10. 

The community will provide input on the final submissions and the city council will select the final winner who will receive an additional $500. Mayor Christopher Taylor plans to fly the new flag over City Hall and other municipal buildings after its selection is finalized in January, believing in the idea that the new flag will foster a shared sense of pride and identity, according to a city press release

The bicentennial commemorates when the founders of Ann Arbor, John Allen and Elisha Rumsey, first registered the name “Ann Arbor” in 1824, before Michigan was admitted to the Union. The celebration begins on Oct. 15 with the grand opening of an art exhibit at Concordia University and continues through next year. 

Not all residents support the contest. Longtime Ann Arbor activist and 2024 candidate for city council Mozhgan Savabieasfahani said, “The ultra-wealthy city council ignores the needs of the public […] Measures taken, like the flag contest, are cosmetic and don’t even begin to address the deep reasons people are unhappy here.”

All ages are invited to participate in the contest to replace the current flag, which was designed by a local high school senior 64 years ago before Ann Arbor native and astronaut Jack Lousma took it with him on his 1982  mission aboard a space shuttle. 

Submissions for the flag design will be accepted online, by mail, and in person. Guidelines for entering the contest are available on the Ann Arbor government website

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