Creator of mosquito-themed state flag says design was a joke

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Magnolias, stars, a Gulf Coast lighthouse, a teddy bear, and even Kermit the Frog appear on some of the over 1,800 proposals submitted by the general public for a new Mississippi flag and posted Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, on the Mississippi Department of Archives and History web site. The state recently retired the last state banner with the Confederate battle emblem that's widely condemned as racist and a nine-member commission will design a replacement that cannot include the Confederate symbol and must have the phrase, "In God We Trust." (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, via AP)

JACKSON, Miss. – 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 about 150 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.