UT service fraternity owns world’s largest Texas flag

Elizabeth Huang

Weighing 450 pounds and stretching 100-by-150 feet, the largest Texas flag in the world calls UT-Austin home.

The flag is maintained and presented by Alpha Phi Omega (APO), a national, co-ed service fraternity.

“What makes [us] unique is the fact that we also serve as a spirit group here on campus because we are responsible for the World’s Largest Texas Flag,” said Emily Hannon, a civil engineering and chemistry senior and Texas flag co-coordinator, in an email. “Through this, we are responsible for fostering Texas pride on campus and in the community.”

The largest Texas flag is brought out for every home football game by about 60 members of APO. Cassie Isbell, classics senior and flag runner, said the crowd’s response is what she loves about running the flag.

“What I enjoy most about running the flag is being down on the field, and when we open the flag, hearing the crowd get louder, especially as we pull off one of our tricks,” Isbell said.

APO runs the flag across the field, performing special tricks at games. Some tricks such as “The Cyclone” are intricate but visually appealing, Hannon said.

“For the cyclone, a member on each of the short sides of the flag move towards one another to “scrunch” up the flag in order to make it look like a circle,” Hannon said. “The two members, meeting at the middle, essentially hug each other very tightly while the flag is then spun a full 360 degrees.”

Other tricks are saved for special occasions such as the Texas vs. OU game, the only event where “The Corner Open” is performed, Lauren Loper, government senior and Texas flag co-coordinator, said.

“[For the Corner Open,] we bunch the flag up in the corner of the end zone of the OU side and pull the flag open, covering the OU end zone,” Loper said.

APO is currently in possession of the world’s three largest Texas flags, each used during different types of events. 

The first flag, which was 17-by-30 yards, was presented to Governor Price Daniel by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett at the end of the 1962 Cotton Bowl halftime show. Daniel gave the flag to the Longhorn Band, who returned it to the University, which gave it to the Athletics Department. The Athletics Department first asked Texas APO to run the flag the following football season at the 1962 Thanksgiving game against Texas A&M, and APO has maintained and displayed the flag at University events ever since.