PROVO Officials in Provo admit they could use a better flag.
The Provo flag, marked by heavy letters of the city's name on a white-sheet background, was ranked 143rd worst out of 150 municipal flags surveyed by flag fanciers at the North American Vexillological Association.
In Idaho, Pocatello has another flag only a booster could love it finished dead last in the rankings. The flag is more banner than flag, dominated by fat letters reading "Proud to be Pocatello."
Most of the highly ranked flags featured simple geometric designs such as stars, stripes and silhouettes, which earned Washington, D.C., top honors for a flag showing two red bars and three stars.
Flags that received low marks most often had written words or hard-to-see details.
That was the case for Salt Lake City's flag, which finished 99th in the rankings. Salt Lake's flag is full of symbols seagulls, a beehive, a pioneer family that aren't visible from afar. It has been likened to a "bedsheet when the wind isn't blowing," said Mayor Rocky Anderson's spokeswoman, Deeda Seed.
The city is sponsoring a contest to replace its current 1963-vintage model.
Utah's state flag rated in 2002 as one of the nation's homeliest also was slated for replacement until traditionalists objected.
"Some flags are reason enough to keep flag burning legal; if I were in Pocatello or Provo, I'd buy up the entire stock of their flags and use them for winter heating," one critic wrote on the North American Vexillological Association's Web site.
Provo resident Joel Stevens said his city's flag was just plain "B-O-R-I-N-G."
"It looks like the designer took a white sheet and scrawled 'Provo' on it with a black magic marker, then used crayons to draw the multicolored line underneath the name of the city," he said.
The low ranking hasn't created a flap in Utah's third largest city.
"We're flattered that they would notice our flag," Provo spokesman Michael Mower said. "And, quite frankly, we agree with their conclusion . . . We're certainly open to suggestions" for improving the flag.
Designers would be pressed to fashion a flag much worse than Provo's, said Ted Kaye, author of "Good Flag, Bad Flag."
"From a distance, all you would see is a smudge on a white flag," he said. "When a city puts its name on the flag, it shows it is insecure in its symbolism. There must be something more symbolic in Provo than simply writing its name on the flag."
Provo adopted the flag in 1990 after retiring a red-and-blue design highlighted by a stylized "P."