CORYDON, Ind. — The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay started Friday from the grounds of the state’s first capital building, beginning a planned journey through all 92 counties over the next five weeks.
Former Indiana first lady Judy O’Bannon lit the torch during a ceremony attended by several hundred people in the southern Indiana town of Corydon and carried it from the stage to start the relay.
The some 2,200 torchbearers taking part will be a tribute to the state’s progress over the past 200 years, said O’Bannon, whose late husband, Gov. Frank O’Bannon, was a Corydon native.
“As this torch travels around the state, we’ll hear the voice of people who traveled those years,” she said. “We’ll see what they’ve done.”
Hundreds of school children were in the crowd for the ceremony during which Indiana first lady Karen Pence and Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb were among other speakers. Several people in early 1800s dress also took part, including someone portraying Indiana’s first governor, Jonathan Jennings.
O’Bannon handed off the torch to others who carried it through the streets of Corydon, which is where the first state constitution was written and served as the state capital from 1816 until it was moved to Indianapolis in 1825.
The relay route is expected to cover more than 3,200 miles and pass through 260 cities and towns before ending Oct. 15 at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, according to organizers. The torch, which is modeled on the torch at the center of the state flag, was designed by Purdue University students and faculty and includes a camera and GPS, allowing people to follow its progress through mobile app.
Indiana marks its 200th anniversary of becoming the nation’s 19th state on Dec. 11.