Pride of the 815

Guilford Alum leads community effort to create a city flag

Olivia Hagerty, Editor-In-Chief

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Rockford is the third largest city in the state of Illinois, commonly known as the Forest City, for its historical relevancy and great location. Over the past year, a new idea has been developing in the community. There was a realization about there not being something to symbolize Rockford as a whole. Through the eyes of three Rockford members, the idea of a city flag was the missing piece to the puzzle.
Guilford graduate Tyler Yomantas (2013), freelance photographer and member of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau; Joel Didier, Forest City photographer; and Luke Miller, leader of the community group Rockford Proud, came together to create the idea of producing a city flag. Other major Illinois cities, including Chicago and Naperville, produced personalized city flags for their community. The three founders believed Rockfordians needed something more significant than the city seal on a white sheet.
“We wanted something as symbolic as Chicago’s flag,” said Yomantas. “The flag can hopefully be embedded as deeply as that symbol is to the people.”
Why a flag? The idea came to the three creators when seeing the plain white flag flying above city hall and government buildings downtown. Not only is a flag likely to interest the people of Rockford and show what the city really is about, but it will signify a rally by the community to face the problems together. It is something that will have an everlasting impact on the “815 society.”
“Flags are and have been a powerful symbol used across cultures since time immemorial,” said Miller. “A good flag not only identifies one community to another, but it also identifies community to itself.”
The initial launch was on the 2017 Rockford Day, where Yomantas, Didier, and Miller came together to announce their idea with a powerful video. The three boys are leaving the design of the flag into the hands of Rockford residents. More than 70 people have submitted flag ideas and have checked out the flag’s website, To select the perfect flag, the creators decided to select working members of the community to be panel judges, including people like teachers, store owners, and Rockford citizens. The Rockford flag will be made without any tax money, but instead through donations and fundraising. This year’s 815 day, August 15th, will be the release day of the flag at a special event and press conference.
“We want Rockford to have a unique identity,” said Yomantas. “Rockfordians need a timeless symbol pridefully designed to help see you and I as a community today and hopefully forever.”