REDDING, Calif. - Rich Kenny was a physical therapist in the Bay Area, but in the early 1980's, he started finding flags for the backdrops of local plays in Oakland.
"I was a theater person. For the twenty years living in Oakland, I would see two or three plays a weekend at least," Kenny said. "It got to the point I started offering to do stage props."
He said that began when the flags at the amphitheater in Oakland were stolen. He offered to help find new ones and continue to find flags for each performance at the theater.
"Further down the road, they did Music Man. I thought 'what kind of flags can I get for Music Man?' well, Music Man is the story about small towns in Iowa. So, there you go!"
Kenny explains that he started writing to the mayors of different small towns in Iowa to find flags for the Music Man.
From there, he said he decided to start collecting city flags for himself.
He belonged to the North American Vexillological Association. He started going to conventions across the country.
Kenny said he's sent 30,000 letters to various mayors requesting their city flags.
"I got over a one percent return on them which is phenomenal for donations."
Kenny was working at a hospital and decided to use the used oatmeal containers to store all of his flags.
His collection consisted of flags he picked up while traveling, flags donated by sending letters to the mayor, and even flags he's sewn himself.
He eventually got so many that he was displaying them for events such as the 1984 Democratic Convention and an international flag convention at San Francisco City Hall.
His favorite flag, he said, is that of Baltimore.
"The best ones come out of Maryland because they are steeped in the traditions of England. England is very heraldic, everything they do is heraldic."
Kenny has designed two city flags that have been officially adopted. He said as far as he knows no one in the world has designed three, making him tied with others for the most flag designs adopted.
He said he didn't hear about the Redding city flag competition in time to enter it. He does say, however, that the current Redding flag needs a change.
"We call this [Redding Flag] a bed sheet flag or a cop door flag because all it is is a seal."
He said the city of Redding needs something that represents what the city has. He explained that the Shasta Dam and Shasta Mountain on the current flag aren't things in Redding. He said it's important what we choose because it becomes the city's brand.
"There needs to be imagination and forethought," Kenny said.
To vote for the new Redding City Flag visit http://reddingcityflag.com/