July 31st, 2017 is Orlando’s 142nd birthday. To celebrate the birthday, there was a celebration today at City Hall. With a big birthday cake. Also, today was the raising of the brand new city flag.
The previous flag was created in 1980, and had a decent 37 year run. You can totally see the 1980s influence in this design:
The new flag is a much simpler design, partly because the contest to design the new flag consulted vexillologists – flag experts. The specifics indicated that the final design should be easy to draw from memory, and so we have this new flag, designed by graphic designer Tim Eggert. To explain the symbology, I’ll quote from http://www.cityoforlando.net/flag/:
Orlando’s fountain at Lake Eola Park is the most distinctive and recognizable symbol in the city, one that is loved by our residents and enjoyed by our visitors. The water ascending from the fountain represents the continuous flow of energy and innovation that makes Orlando a city on the rise. The six equal segments on the base of the fountain embody the city’s six commission districts. The iconic fountain is surrounded by the letter “O”, which symbolizes Orlando’s unity, connectivity and timelessness. The color yellow represents the sunshine, hope and happiness that thrive in our great city. The reflection of the “O” in the water symbolizes our careful consideration of our past and our bold vision for the future. The flag is set on a two-toned background of blue and white representing patriotism, perseverance and peace.
I arrived at City Hall about fifteen minutes before the celebration was scheduled to start, so I could get the lay of the land. I’d never actually been inside the building before, but it was easy to find the door because the giant inflatable 142 was visible from outside.
The party was held in the rotunda just inside the main doors, underneath all the flags- the US flag, the Florida flag, and the Orland city flag are all visible. The other nine flags represent the countries of Orlando’s sister cities, I think.
This party had all the fixins. There was a photo booth for instant print pictures of you against the new flag.
There was one flag to be signed by people who were at the celebration. (I declined. I feel like this is for important local officials, and I’m kind of a nobody.)
There were party hats, cowbells, fridge magnets, and tiny flags. The tiny flag is on my desk now.
This was the city’s birthday cake. It was delicious and I rather wish I’d gone back for a second slice. There was also cookies and liquid refreshment, but I don’t have a picture of that table.
There was a table to order your own flag- I considered this for a few minutes, but decided to wait- I’m confident this flag will be available later on.
There was live music courtesy of the Orlando Concert Band. They were pretty great!
This gives you a better idea of how many people were in attendance. The far end of this shot is the mayor of Orlando and some officials who were there to officially raise the new flag.
The flag raising was supposed to be outside, but Tropical Storm Emily spun up off the left coast of Florida this morning, and that forced a change. They made the best of it, though, and put a fan behind the flag to make it flap in the “breeze” after it was raised. Incidentally, the man in the beige suit is Mayor Buddy Dyer. I’ve seen him speak a few times now, and he seems like a pretty good guy.
A bunch of city councilmen and other local officials posed with the flag, and that wrapped up the ceremony.
But wait, there’s more! The rain was light enough that they decided to do a less formal raising of the flag outside as well.
Once Mayor Dyer got the flag up to this height, he tied it off, and joked, “Ok, now everybody blow.” For a day with a tropical storm nearby, there was pretty much no wind at all.
I don’t know who any of the people in this next photograph are other than the mayor, but I think this is a good example of why I like the guy- he’s approachable and friendly, and he seems to genuinely care about the people in his city. Anyone who’s game for a ridiculously large selfie is pretty OK, I think.
When I lived in South Florida, I couldn’t have told you the last name of the mayor. It’s refreshing to be in a city where the mayor is so much more visibly active in what goes on with his city.
The official Twitter account of the city posted this video about an hour after the event- if you look very, very, very carefully, you can spot me in there.
There’s also an official Flickr gallery of this event, with all kinds of high resolution photos that are significantly better than mine. I paged through the gallery, and I found myself in only one of the crowd shots. I was trying to avoid all of the photographers, but I guess my Batman skills are a little lacking. Here’s a zoom of the one picture that tagged me.
It occurs to me now that I need a proper Orlando t-shirt for stuff like this.
Do you like the new Orlando City flag?