New Naperville flag to come from 128 options

Before Naperville will have one new flag, it has 128 of them.

A group of Neuqua Valley High School students who invited the community in March to submit designs of a new flag to represent the city have received far more entries than they expected.

"We were shocked that we broke 100," said Andy Wang, one of the students who serves as director of technology for the project. "We weren't expecting that many people to be into - of all things - flag design."

But they were.

Some designers submitted multiple options. Some came from as far away as Norway, England and France. Roughly 70 were from Naperville, right at home, including a few from junior high students who were assigned to create a flag as a class project. It seems the effort at took on a life of its own once people began reading about it online.

"Through a lot of odd means, we've had a lot of awesome submissions," Wang said.

Many of the submissions incorporated aspects of the city's existing flag, a white banner created in 1974 with the word "Naperville" under a blue logo of a tree, a river and small buildings to represent housing, industry and churches.

"The ones I like the most were the ones that took elements of the old flag - for some reason people really love the tree - then put in elements that related to other flags," Wang said.

Some submitted flags are reminiscent of the city of Chicago's banner, with red stars and bars or rectangles of a bright, sky blue. The five flags chosen as best by averaging the ratings given by a panel of roughly 40 civic, business and nonprofit leaders soon will be available for public online voting.

Wang said he expects online voting to begin the weekend of Aug. 13 and 14 and last roughly two weeks, giving anyone who wants to have a voice a chance to weigh in on Naperville's future flag. The flag then will be announced and first shown at the TEDx Naperville speakers conference on Nov. 4.

The idea to choose a new Naperville flag actually came from a speech design expert Roman Mars gave at a convention in 2015 of TED, a nonprofit that works to spread ideas through short, engaging talks.

The founder of Naperville's independent TED talks series, Arthur Zands, and one of the Neuqua students behind the flag project, Connor Tenny, both watched the talk about why municipal flags often are poorly designed and had the same idea: Let's work to create a better flag for Naperville.

"It's a fascinating project," Zands said about the students' effort. "The whole purpose of flags should be community-driven."

City leaders expressed some hesitance to adopt the flag chosen by the community as an official symbol of the municipality, but that won't stop this project from moving forward, Wang and Zands said. The idea, they say, is more about community identity, about forging something that can be flown anywhere or printed on T-shirts or even tattooed on people's bodies if it becomes so interconnected with what it means to be in Naperville.

"We get to bring the community together," Wang said. "And we get to have a symbol that really strengthens our identity as a person that lives in Naperville."

This potential new flag for the city of Naperville, designed by Kristijonas Bertasius, is one of 128 submitted to a design contest run by a group of Neuqua Valley High School students. Courtesy of Naperville Flag
Designer Jeannie Lee incorporated the Millennium Carillon into this submission to a flag-design contest being run by a group of students from Neuqua Valley High School. Courtesy of Naperville Flag
Some designs submitted to a Naperville flag design contest are reminiscent of the city of Chicago's flag, such as this version submitted by Jacob Olsen. Courtesy of Naperville Flag
  A group of Neuqua Valley High School students is running a contest to design a new flag for the city of Naperville that could be a potential update to this banner created in 1974 by a panel called the Community Appearance Advisory Board. Marie Wilson/
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