Bringing back the flag of Des Moines

The flag of Des Moines was designed by Walter T. Proctor. The three white bridges across the flag symbolize the Grand, Locust, and Walnut Street bridges at the Des Moines River. (Photo courtesy of Flag of Des Moines).

Did you know Des Moines has its own flag?

The origin of the flag goes back to 1974 when Callanan Junior High School teacher Gerald LaBlanc and his seventh-grade class convinced the city to host a citywide flag design contest.

Walter Proctor, the editor, publisher and founder of American Host, submitted the winning design of the three arched bridges — Grand Avenue, Locust Street and Walnut Street — crossing the Des Moines River.

The flag was slowly phased out in recent years and eventually stopped flying in 2008 when a new city logo was unveiled featuring the Des Moines cityscape.

Now, a husband and wife duo — Mason and Emily Kessinger — are looking to bring it back.

The two have created a site, flagofdesmoines.com, where you can learn about the flag’s history and purchase various Des Moines flag apparel.

“I grew up know knowing the flag of Des Moines,” said Emily. “Mason learned about the flag when he started working at Gravitate and they had made stickers and shirts with the flag on them. Mason put a sticker on his phone and when my mom noticed it we started talking about how she was in the seventh-grade class that had the idea for the competition. The whole thing just kind of took off from there.”

“I’m a designer by trade so naturally the way things are visually represented and branded is important to me. I see things through that lens,” added Mason. “So when I came to Des Moines and found out that we had this great symbol but were no longer leveraging it, it felt like a loss. It felt like it was a missed opportunity.”

Flag of Des Moines apparel is now also available in several retail stores throughout Des Moines including Mars Cafe, Art Terrarium, Zanzibar’s Coffee and Back Country Outfitters.

“The whole thing cooks up to me to be a really great symbol that Des Moines can rally around,” said Mason. “It’s already been established historically. It has great significance symbolically. There’s a great story to it. So all we’re really trying to do in essence is put that image back out there.” 

Flag Day Celebration at Confluence

On June 14, Flag of Des Moines will be hosting a Flag Day Celebration and Beer Release at Confluence Brewing from 4 – 8 pm.

During the event, Confluence will release a special edition can of their Des Moines IPA to celebrate the flag of Des Moines. There will be live screen-printing by The Side Garage and live music by Federal Cheese from 5 – 8 pm.