Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Montpelier Unveils New Flag After Old Design Shamed In TED Talk

Montpelier's new city flag takes the place of one thrown together years ago to display in the Rose Parade.
Courtesy: City of Montpelier
Montpelier's new city flag takes the place of one thrown together years ago to display in the Rose Parade.

The nation’s smallest capital city has a newly designed flag.

Montpelier’s original flag was created in haste years ago when the nationally televised Rose Parade put out a call for flags from all the state capitals.

The city didn’t have a flag at the time, so officials used a logo from a “Welcome To Montpelier” sign to create one. Even the logo’s designer didn’t think it worked for a flag, but time was of the essence.

After that, Montpelierites essentially forgot about their flag; until it came up in a presentation by design expert, broadcaster and flag fan Roman Mars who displayed it in a nationally broadcast TED Talk.

“Few things give me greater joy than a well-designed flag,” said Mars in his talk on vexillology – the study of flags. Mars went on to show examples of well-designed and not-so-well designed city flags.

He was rhapsodic about Chicago’s flag,  but that was the exception.

“There is a scourge of bad flags, and they must be stopped,” Mars said as he displayed a group of examples on a large screen behind him. There, front and center was Montpelier’s flag.

Mercifully, Mars didn’t dwell on Montpelier. The city fared far better than Milwaukee and San Francisco whose flag faults were highlighted. Poor Pocatello, Idaho’s flag was declared "worst city flag in North America" by the North American Vexillological Association, according to Mars.

The TED Talk got the attention of some in Montpelier and the issue of the flag came up at a city council meeting.

“The common response when this first came up was, ‘we have a flag?’" says Montpelier City Clerk John Odum. True, the city flag flew outside city offices, but no one seemed to notice.

“It looks like a logo on a flag. It doesn’t look like an official flag,” says Odum.

He admits a flag design, good or bad, wasn’t an important issue to anyone, but being singled out by Mars in his TED Talk seemed to demand some kind of response.

“There was a feeling of, ‘well do we want to let this sit there?'” says Odum.

So Montpelier announced a competition for a new flag design.

Entries were submitted and finalists chosen. The winner was selected through an online vote and officially unfurled at the city’s Independence Day parade this month. The new flag was designed by E. Montpelier native Chet Larrow, now of Baltimore, Maryland.

According to Larrow, his design, “emphasizes Montpelier's representation of the 14 counties as well as [Vermont] being the 14th state to join the union. The gold stars are displayed in a circle to subtly represent the iconic round dome that both visitors and locals come to associate the city with."

In an effort to keep Montpelier residents from forgetting again that they have a flag, the new one will be available for sale beginning later this month.

“I want to buy one for my house, and a few other people have asked,” says Odum.

Odum says he emailed Roman Mars’ office with news that Montpelier had a new flag and asking for his feedback on the design.

“I sent a copy of the winning one…but have yet to hear anything,” he says.

Odum says it cost the city nothing to create the new flag and it was worth the time that went into it. 

“A well designed flag can be seen as an indicator of how a city considers all of its designed systems;  its public transit, its parks, its signage,” Mars said in his TED Talk. “It might seem frivolous, but it’s not.”

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
Latest Stories