DOWAGIAC — Wave that flag, wave it wide and high.
The Dowagiac City Council on Monday approved the design for an official Dowagiac city flag following a months-long project with feedback from more than 350 community members and 21 submitted designs. On Tuesday afternoon, the design was unveiled to the public during a live-streamed ceremony at the historic Dowagiac Train Depot.
The flag, presented to council members by an economic development subcommittee featuring local artist Paige Behnke and local marketing consultant Eileen Crouse, features a white dogwood flower with a black center over an orange four-pointed star in a blue circle on a green field.
“It’s simple, yet complex in a neat way,” said Crouse, a flag enthusiast who originally brought the idea for to Bakeman. “I think it’s going to look awesome flying up on a flag pole.
After announcing a flag design competition in March, the subcommittee narrowed the submitted designs down to six on April 26, and sought public feedback for what the final design should look like based on the six finalists.
Elements from several of six selected finalists were combined for the final design, which was completed by Behnke after considering the survey answers of 356 residents.
“We found overwhelmingly that citizens of Dowagiac really loved the flag with the dogwood flower, but not so much chose the doe as most symbolic and related to the City of Dowagiac,” Crouse said. “We knew the dogwood had to be dominant.”
Dowagiac was recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation as the first “Dogwood Tree City USA,” and the trees transform the city landscape as spring takes hold. In the flag design, the circle in the center of the four petals reflects Dowagiac’s location at the juncture of Silver Creek, Wayne, Pokagon and LaGrange Townships.
Behind the Dogwood flower is an orange, four-pointed compass star, which was chosen to represent the diverse people who came to Dowagiac from all points of the compass. Each point of the star represents a significant element of Dowagiac’s history and industry – the Michigan Central Railroad, the Colby Mill, Round Oak Stove Company and Heddon Lures.
“The color orange represents fire,” Crouse said. “The fire is in honor of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi as the “Keepers of the Fire,” the flame within a furnace as “Furnace City,” as well as a nod to the Dowagiac Union Schools Chieftain orange.”
The central elements of the flag are surrounded by a blue circle, representing the Dowagiac River, Dowagiac Creek, Mill Pond and the Great Lakes. The background color was chosen to be green as a symbol of the agricultural roots of the area.
The three main colors – orange, green and blue – also signify the city’s three wards.
City council members were enthused at the finished product, and unanimously approved the design.
“I think you’ve done a marvelous job,” said Mayor Don Lyons, at Monday’s council meeting. “Everyone involved deserves out thanks and appreciation.”
Council member Patrick Bakeman, who oversaw the subcommittee, said he hopes the flag creates a lot of civic pride in the community.
“I know there’s going to be an initial reaction … both good and bad,” he said. “But I think as the years pass, it will really stand the test of time.”
Production of the final design was donated, free of charge, to the City of Dowagiac by local artist and competition finalist Sean Kaniuga, of SK Design. The free-to-use design – as well as a complete description of all the symbolic elements – will soon be available to the public at cityofdowagiac.com.