JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man who submitted a proposal to place a giant mosquito on the new state flag, a design that went viral on social media, said he created it as a joke.
Thomas Rosete, a deckhand on the Yazoo River, told the Clarion Ledger he created the “mosquito flag,” which features a giant mosquito surrounded by a circle of stars, to poke fun at a coworker who had been against changing the flag. Working on the river, he said he is very familiar with Mississippi mosquitoes and it felt like a fitting way to represent the state.
“They’re everywhere,” he told the Ledger. “They’re terrible.”
Mississippi is currently in the process of choosing a new flag. Lawmakers took a historic vote this year to take down the old state flag, which featured the Confederate battle flag, a symbol widely condemned as racist. A nine-member commission will recommend a replacement flag.
Rosete and nearly 3,000 Mississippians have since submitted designs for a new state flag. Some of the designs were more serious than others. Among the submissions were flags decorated with a Gulf Coast lighthouse, a teddy bear, Kermit the Frog and the mosquito flag.
The commission approved 147 proposals for the second round, and the state Department of Archives & History put those on its website on Monday. Many were surprised that the mosquito flag had made the cut, along with dozens of designs featuring Mississippi magnolia flowers.
The reaction on social media was immediate: People loved it.
“Personally, I love the Mosquito Flag. … the cheekyness (sic) of it is on brand,” one Mississippi native wrote on Twitter.
“I’m slowly realizing my love for the mosquito flag might not even be ironic,” another commented. “It’s so bad it’s good. I would proudly fly the mosquito.”
Supporters’ hopes were dashed on Tuesday, however. Archives & History released a statement saying the design had been advanced mistakenly and would be removed from the list.
People soon began to express their remorse.
“I don’t feel like anyone dodged a bullet here rather they squandered an opportunity,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“No,” another said. “The mosquito flag is destined to be in that round!”
“Fly high, mosquito flag,” a Mississippi journalist tweeted.
Rosete told the Ledger that even though it was short-lived, it was nice to see people rally around the flag.
“I’m a sucker for underdog stories and the Mosquito Flag was definitely the underdog going into the competition,” he said.