And then there were six: Flag finalists on display at MOA

A display of six flags at the mall, People look at it from multiple levels.
Mockups of the finalists for Minnesota’s new state flag hang in the Huntington Bank Rotunda at the Mall of America Saturday.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

Shoppers at the Mall of America this weekend were urged to avert their eyes from the stores, the rides and the Christmas decorations.

“Look Up, Minnesotans!” read a sign posted in one of the mall’s rotundas. And there, floating in the mall’s sky, were six candidates to be Minnesota’s next state flag.

The State Emblems Redesign Committee recently sifted through more than 2,100 submissions before choosing six finalists. And now the finalists were ready for impromptu and informal public comments.

Sarah Sullivan of Mankato was at the mall with her two sons. The 43-year-old didn’t like any of them.

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"I liked the old one, you know?” Sullivan said. “I feel like we’re kind of doing away with a lot of the history and we’re kind of getting the ‘out with the old, in with the new’.”

A person holds up
St. Paul resident Lena Kaljot takes a video of the Minnesota State Flag designs at the Mall of America on Sunday.
Nicole Ki | MPR News

Sullivan’s 8-year-old son, Gerald, said the best design is the wavy one that resembles water.

A flag hangs from a wire.
One of the finalists to be Minnesota’s new state flag.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

St. Paul resident Lena Kaljot, 68, was at the mall with her sister-in-law to run errands and see the designs in-person.

“I think it’s kind of neat,” said Kaljot, examining the flags. “I like where all these are going. I like that they’re changing it. And I like the kinds of things they’ve come up with.”

A flag hangs from a wire.
Another finalist to be Minnesota’s new state flag.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

Kaljot says she likes parts of all of the designs and prefers to see a yellow North Star as part of the new design. She also understands why the flag is being changed.

“I get why they’re getting rid of it,” Kaljot said.

As for the new designs?

“These actually have a little more personality to them,” she said.

A flag hangs from a wire.
Another finalist to be Minnesota’s new state flag.
Nicole Neri for MPR News

The commission, which was created by the Minnesota Legislature, has a deadline of the end of year to choose the final flag design. Many have criticized Minnesota’s current flag for its racist imagery, which depicts a farmer tilling a field with a Native American on horseback riding seemingly into a sunset in the distance.

By law, the commission has to select emblems that “accurately and respectfully reflect Minnesota’s shared history, resources, and diverse cultural communities.” And the designs can’t single out a community or person in particular. 

The commission resumes its deliberations on Tuesday in St. Paul.

The new state flag will officially go up in May barring a legislative veto.

The panel already picked a new state seal, subject to some tweaking over the next few weeks. It depicts a loon preening on a Minnesota lake.

A man and woman point towards flags hanging up above.
Marc Schaefer, who submitted his own design but was not a finalist, points out flags with his wife Caroline Schaefer as mockups of the finalists for Minnesota's new state flag hang in the Huntington Bank Rotunda at the Mall of America Saturday.
Nicole Neri for MPR News
A woman stands with her phone pointing upwards.
A woman takes a photo of mockups of the finalists for Minnesota's new state flag Saturday.
Nicole Neri for MPR News
A man points towards a flag displayed above.
Two boys point out mockups of the finalists for Minnesota's new state flag hang at the Mall of America Saturday.
Nicole Neri for MPR News
Four flags hang horizontally across a wire near a holiday tree.
Mockups of the finalists for Minnesota’s new state flag hang at the Mall of America Saturday.
Nicole Neri for MPR News
Three flags hang horizontally across a wire.
Mockups of the finalists for Minnesota’s new state flag hang at the Mall of America Saturday.
Nicole Neri for MPR News
A flag hangs off a wire. A holiday tree sits behind in the distance.
Another finalist to be Minnesota’s new state flag.
Nicole Neri for MPR News
A flag hangs from a wire.
Another finalist to be Minnesota’s new state flag.
Nicole Neri for MPR News
A flag hangs from a wire.
Another finalist to be Minnesota’s new state flag.
Nicole Neri for MPR News
A flag hangs from a wire.
Another finalist to be Minnesota’s new state flag.
Nicole Neri for MPR News