Want to carry a torch for Indiana?

Bartholomew County residents will have the opportunity to exhibit the warmth and hospitality they pride themselves on when Hoosiers from around the state come to visit as part of the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration.

Although it is nearly a year away, local officials already are planning the celebration that will occur when the official torch of the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay makes a stop in Columbus on Sept. 18.

The Olympic-sized torch will make its way through each of the state’s 92 counties, starting in Harrison County and ending in Marion County, said Perry Hammock, executive director of the Indiana bicentennial commission.

Hammock shared details of the festivities planned for Indiana’s 200th year of statehood during a Columbus Rotary Club meeting on Monday.

About 20 to 40 local residents will be selected the help carry the torch through the county, although the final number of carriers has not been decided yet, said Lynn Lucas, Indiana Bicentennial-Bartholomew County coordinator.

So far, Lucas has received about 20 nominations for torch carriers, but she’s hoping to get at least 20 more, she said.

The exact route the torch will take through Bartholomew County still is being finalized, Lucas said.

In addition to the torch relay, Hammock’s bicentennial commission is offering official endorsements to various legacy projects in each of the state’s counties.

A project endorsement includes event publicity on the bicentennial website — currently the most frequently visited site in the state — a letter of endorsement from the bicentennial commission and permission to use the bicentennial logo on all event promotions.

The Bartholomew County legacy projects include:

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Mill Race Marathon Health & Fitness Expo

Spring on the Farm — 200 Years of Indiana History

Saturday Sampler programs

Vintage Spirits — History and Hooch of Bartholomew County

The Empire Strikes Back — A Bicentennial Celebration of Indiana Fashion

Bicentennial Hat Making

Three other Bartholomew County legacy projects are in the works, Lucas said.

In total, the commission hopes to endorse 1,000 statewide events, Hammock said. Right now, there are 665 legacy projects included in the official bicentennial celebration.

Aside from individual county celebrations, Indiana legislators included $28 million in the most recent state budget to fund three capital projects that will benefit all Hoosiers: a new location for the state archives, a new Statehouse Education and Welcome Center in the State Library and Bicentennial Plaza, currently being constructed on the west entrance of the Statehouse.

The official bicentennial celebration begins in a matter of weeks on Dec. 11, Indiana’s Statehood Day, and will extend throughout the state in 2016.

Nominating a local torch carrier

More than 1,800 Hoosiers will be selected to carry a torch in the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay, which begins Sept. 9 in Corydon. The torch will come to Bartholomew County from Decatur County and will tentatively stop at the Bartholomew County Public Library Plaza, 536 Fifth St., on Sept. 18. From there, the torch will move into Brown County.

To nominate a local resident to be a torch bearer:

  • Go to Indiana2016.org
  • Find “Signature Projects” from the menu on the left side of the screen, then select “Bicentennial Torch Relay”
  • Fill out the nomination form, then return it to the Columbus Visitors Center, 506 Fifth St., or email it to Lynn Lucas, llucas@columbus.in.us

About 40 nominations are needed in Bartholomew County. Nominations are due by Jan. 31.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.