The city of Enumclaw may soon adopt its first-ever municipal flag, and your chance to comment on the final designs is fast approaching.
Officials announced the municipal flag contest last October, and by the December deadline, the city received around 50 submissions from professional and amateur vexillologists around the country, Plateau residents, and, most of all, local students of all ages.
“I think myself, Alina, and the mayor were all very surprised by the number of submissions,” said Parks and Recreation Director Michelle Larson, who took over as contest lead from Cultural Programs and Events Coordinator Alina Hibbs. “I think my favorite part in going through the submissions was not only the creativity and knowledge of flag design, but reading the narratives… Seeing the different things that people identify with our community was very cool.”
But in the end, no matter how many excellent designs were submitted, only one will be chosen.
First, the city’s Arts Commission on Jan. 5 whittled down the extensive list to just eight designs — the ones you see above.
According to Larson, the commission narrowed the playing field by considering the simplicity and uniqueness of the designs, and how strongly the symbols and colors on the flag connect to the Enumclaw community.
Tomorrow (Jan. 18), the Civil Service Commission will give their official opinion and send the final designs to the city council.
The council, in turn, will discuss (and possibly approve) the final design during the Jan. 24 meeting; it appears the only opportunity for residents to comment on the final designs will be during the public comment period.
“I just want to thank everyone that took the time and went through the process in designing and submitting their design,” Mayor Jan Molinaro said in an email interview. “Someone will have their design on our city’s flag to hopefully last generations.”
Larson wanted to make sure she specifically thanked all the youth who submitted a design.
“I hope they had a lot of fun with the project,” she said.
The final design may go through some edits and changes as deemed necessary by the city council or the graphic designer who will help create the final product.
Zachary, a Westwood Elementary fourth grader, designed his flag as part of a school project after finishing up his required work. His teacher said many other students started a flag, but he was one of the few who persevered until the end.
In his explanatory statement, Zachary said the red and blue stars represent America, with red meaning “love, life, energy, and youth,” and blue meaning “wellness” and “trust”.
The green, he continued, “means strength, health, [and] peace” while the black “means serious, strength, sharpness, [and] modern power.”
Hawaaboo is a senior at Enumclaw High and is the school’s president of the National Art Honor Society; this was an optional assignment she took for her AP (Advanced Placement) Government class.
“I love art and this sounded like a great opportunity to dive deeper into Enumclaw and bring out my creative side,” she said in an email interview.
According to Hawaaboo, her flag “shows the forest and greenery of Enumclaw” through the two evergreen trees at its edges, “along with a representation of the Enumclaw farming community through the cow print,” she wrote in her explanatory statement to the city.
Berrett submitted several flag designs, playing around with various color schemes and text.
The design picked by the Arts Commission is a scene from her youth.
“I grew up riding horses in the foothills of Mt. Rainier, climbing through fences, and walking barefoot in the field to my grandma’s house,” she wrote in her explanatory statement. “The beautiful mountain range and pastures full of dairy cows are iconic symbols of my childhood home.”
Berrett considers Enumclaw her home, though she currently resides in Hawaii.
“I guess that makes Hawaii my home away home,” she said in an email interview.
Unlike the other semifinalists, Koh has never been to Enumclaw — but he’s admired Mount Rainier for years from the city of Singapore, where he lives.
“As an avid hiker with some knowledge of the famous Mount Rainier and its surrounding areas, as well as a big fan of flags (or vexillology), this contest seemed right up my alley to join,” he wrote in an email interview, adding that he was notified of the contest through the social media website Reddit. “If I am privileged enough to earn the trust of the Enumclaw residents to be the designer of their flag, it would be a great honor to work with them to create something that truly symbolizes Enumclaw and that they can be proud of.
His flag design was inspired by Enumclaw’s unofficial label as “the gateway to Mt. Rainier”.
“The flag features a symmetrical and simplified depiction of Mt. Rainier and the trees found in the surrounding area,” he wrote in his explanatory statement. “The tree also resembles the shadow of Mt. Rainier with the city of Enumcalw, represented by the star, at the very heart of it. A blue and white background represents the colors of the skies and snow as well as the peace, harmony and determination of the community.”
Miller, who moved to Enumclaw about a year ago, used his graphic design skills when creating his design.
“The colors of this flag design are an ode to nature and the rich agricultural history of Enumclaw,” he wrote in his explanatory statement; the green, the dominant color of the design, represents the nature that surrounds the city, while the golden yellow “is a nod to the farming industry that our community was founded on” (as well as the “beautiful sunrises and sunsets”). Finally, the white “represents the purity of open space and nature that we are privileged to live in.”
Like many of the designs submitted, as well as several of the semifinal designs, Mt. Rainier is front-and-center.
“Enumclaw is the gateway to Mt. Rainier and the golden box and golden intersection shapes bring the eye to the center of the flag, representing an entry to the mountain,” he wrote.
The tree represents, of course, the surrounding nature, specifically the city’s proximity to several state parks.
“It points up (north) to the mountain as Enumclaw is the entryway to both north entrances to Mt. Rainier National Park,” Miller added.
Tom Clayton and Paige Hancuff
Clayton and Hancuff’s design is one of the more detailed submissions, using highly-stylized trees, various shadings on Mt. Rainier, and — of course — the city’s Logging Legacy memorial found in the heart of downtown.
The two wanted their flag to be a trip through history, going from the sun, to the mountain, to the forest Enumclaw once was, to the Danish heritage that helped found Enumclaw as a city (represented by the Danish flag at the bottom), and finally, the sculpture, which was installed in 2007.
“Most flags we have seen are nondescript, having secret meaning to those it represents,” the two wrote. “Ours is eternal. Distinct and pointed.”
Hancuff and her family purchased the Enumclaw Copy Center in late 2020, returning to the PNW after many years of roaming the west coast. She and Clayton met downtown while discussing poetry, and decided to submit a flag design together.
Although the Arts Commission generally declined to consider flags that incorporated text, Larson said they included the Courier-Herald editor’s flag due to the story behind it.
The text at the bottom of the design is Lushootseed, the dialect of the local Muckleshoot tribe. This particular phrase, translated from English by Muckleshoot Language Teacher Elise Bill-Gerrish, means “Gateway to Mt. Rainier” and pairs with the arch above the mountain.
In his explanatory statement, Miller-Still said he wanted the city’s flag to utilize Luchootseed “to recognize that there is a history to the mountain and this land that stretched back to time immemorial.”
Together, the text and the arch above form a circle, which “represents the Enumclaw community for what it strives to be — wholesome, inclusive, and enduring, even in the toughest of times.”
The field of green represents the local farming and logging communities, and the fields of blue at the edges of the flag symbolize the White and Green rivers, which help distinguish Enumclaw’s borders.
The last semifinal design, created by Enumclaw High 11th grader Moulden, depicts Mount Rainier and an evergreen tree on a field of brown to represent how Enumclaw is a “‘wooden city’ because of the significance logging has had on Enumclaw’s economy and city structure.”
The Courier-Herald emailed Moulden for additional information, but did not receive a response by print deadline.