City News

Salem’s new flag takes to the sky

“We’re going to blanket the city,” said Brian McKinley, minutes after raising Salem’s new flag over Peace Plaza.

McKinley, a former city planning commission member, got a years-awaited vindication Thursday as he lowered Salem’s original 1972 flag to the ground and raised the newly designed cherry blossom motif in its place.

McKinley began advocating for a new city flag in 2014, consulting with the North American Vexillological Association about the process and pushing for a new flag design contest. During a city-sponsored 50th anniversary party Thursday afternoon for the Civic Center, McKinley raised the winning flag with its designer, Jordan Keagle.

“I’m really excited to see it up. It still feels a little surreal,” Keagle said.

The design was adopted by the city council in July from among four finalists, and now flies with the U.S. and Oregon flags outside City Hall.

McKinley passed out flags, stickers and pins bearing the new design to attendees. He said he plans to distribute more downtown once he returns from a trip.

Salem’s previous flag was rarely displayed in public, with few residents aware the city had a flag. This one, he hopes, will be different.

“I hope the city really takes to it,” he said.

City council President Chris Hoy, right, shows off his new Salem flag pin to Brian McKinley at the Civic Center 50th birthday party at Peace Plaza on Thursday, Aug. 18 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Brian McKinley, a former planning commission member who advocated for a new Salem flag for years, passes out the city’s new cherry blossom flag at Peace Plaza on Thursday, Aug. 18 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Salem’s 1972 budget and original bonds issued for the Civic Center on display at the 50th anniversary at City Hall on Thursday, Aug. 18 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Dancers with Casa de la Cultura Tlanese look at books at the Salem Public Library before their performance during the Civic Center 50th anniversary party on Thursday, Aug. 18 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.