Indiana set to kick off yearlong bicentennial celebration

(WISH Photo/Ron Nakasone)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana is preparing to kick off a yearlong celebration leading up to the state’s 200th birthday next December.

An Olympic-style torch that will visit all 92 of Indiana’s counties and cover 2,300 miles next fall as part of the state’s bicentennial events will be unveiled Friday at the Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis.

Bicentennial flags provided to all cities, towns and counties will also be raised at noon Friday, which is Indiana’s 199th birthday.

Former Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, who co-chairs the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, said the panel that’s overseeing the state’s bicentennial bash wants residents to take part in some of those events.

“We want all Hoosiers engaged. We want all communities celebrated. It’s very important to leave a legacy and prepare Indiana for the next 100 years of change,” Skillman told The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette.

Indiana became the nation’s 19th state on Dec. 11, 1816.

The state is spending more than $50 million on bicentennial-related activities around the state. Most of that funding will go for several construction projects, including a bicentennial plaza at the Statehouse and an inn at northern Indiana’s popular Potato Creek State Park.

That funding will also pay for a new state archive building. Indiana’s archives are currently stored in an Indianapolis warehouse that is not climate controlled or accessible to the public.

The bicentennial commission has also endorsed hundreds of “legacy projects” around the state. Those include a two-day “Frontier Fort to Statehood” event next June at Historic Fort Wayne, which recreates the rustic military fort erected in northeastern Indiana during the state’s formative years on the American frontier.

The many events will hopefully inspire Indiana residents to “take a moment and ponder” the occasion, said Perry Hammock, executive director of the bicentennial commission.

“It’s a singular moment in history that we can remember the past, look at where we are now and talk about the future,” Hammock said.

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