Ashleigh Lakey, head of the We Are Newton project, could hardly contain her emotions Thursday during a celebration in Krehbiel Park .
"I must have cried seven times this morning," Lakey said. "I am really excited."
She had just listened to the Newton High School Drumline play as a flag she submitted to a design contest hosted by the city of Newton waved in the park.
The flag, created by businessman Robert Palmer, owner of Back Alley Pizza and former owner of Norms, and minister Brandon Eck, of The Gathering Church, after a series of meetings of a committee charged with looking at branding for the city, is about to be named the official flag of Newton — winning a months-long contest for the honor.
After winning the contest, the flag was flying Friday along Main Street.
And while the city contest for the creation of an official flag began in June, the work for Lakey has been going on much longer than that. She has been promoting the flag designed by Eck through the We Are Newton project for more than three years.
"I put a lot into this," Lakey said. "This is the culmination of three years of work. I am super thankful for Brandon designing it. It has been a team effort and I am super thankful for the people that have helped lift it off the ground."
Last year, Lakey took the flag to city hall with the aid of a current city commissioner to see if the commission would want to adopt it as an official flag.
There was reluctance to appoint the existing flag as the official city flag as there was a desire to seek broad community involvement after similar projects in Wichita and Hutchinson.
The Newton Flag Committee was created under the advisement and approval of Newton city commissioners, with the goal of formalizing a public campaign to create an official Newton flag that will be available to the community for public use.
The city committee hosted three community meetings to receive input from community members regarding the town history, symbolism and traits that they feel are imperative in representing Newton in flag form.
From there, a design contest was created. There were 65 designs submitted. Those were posted ot a Facebook page, in city hall and in the front windows of the Carriage Factory Gallery for a public voting process in August. The top 12 designs from the public voting were reviewed by a committee who made the final selection.
We Are Newton has promoted the flag adorned with crossed train tracks and wheat heads with the high school athletic colors of black and gold for about two years.
"The point was to create unity for the community and something to rally around. I feel like it has been done that," Lakey said.
Used in social media campaigns and a We Are Newton website, Lakey said the flag has become recognizable, based on the feedback she has gotten online.
The committee will present the flag to the Newton City Commission for approval at the Oct. 13 city commission meeting in City Hall to formalize the decision.
Guidelines for the judging team included:
• Keep it simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory.
• Use meaningful symbolism. The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to or tell a compelling story about the community.
• Use two to three basic colors.
• No lettering or seals. Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal.
• Be distinctive or be related. Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections.
• Be timeless. Avoid using features that will become dated or obsolete.
• Consider real-world structure. Images should be legible on both front and back of the flag, and legible while flying or hanging.