Indiana will host a torch relay across the state as part of its 200th birthday celebration in 2016.
Gov. Mike Pence announced the relay Thursday during Statehood Day and he called it a “signature event” for the state’s bicentennial.
“You know the torch is a very important symbol for Indiana because it’s featured right in the middle of our state flag,” Pence said to hundreds of fourth graders gathered at the Statehouse to celebrate Indiana’s 198th birthday.
The relay will carry the torch through each of Indiana’s 92 counties, starting in Corydon, the original state capitol. The torch will travel about 2,300 miles before it arrives at the Statehouse.
“It will be carried by Hoosiers who will be nominated by their peers,” Pence said. “They’ll pass through areas highlighting Indiana’s natural beauty, historic significance and local importance.”
The event will last about six weeks and take place in the fall of 2016, the year of the state’s bicentennial.
The Indiana Office of Tourism Development is organizing the project, which is patterned after the Olympic Torch Relay. The route was charted by a committee of representatives from multiple state agencies and the private sector, including the state departments of transportation, natural resources, police, tourism, community and rural affairs and state archives.
A mobile visitor center will accompany the torch and serve as an interactive museum that highlights important milestones during Indiana’s first 200 years.
The torch will be designed by engineering faculty and students at Purdue University.
Nominations for torch bearers can be made at the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay website. Nominations will be accepted beginning in March.
“We are thrilled to announce this interactive element within our state’s bicentennial celebration,” said first lady Karen Pence, ambassador for the Bicentennial Commission. “Hoosiers from every county in Indiana will have the opportunity to showcase their state pride by choosing how the torch will travel through their county. I look forward to seeing their creativity.”
Volunteer county coordinators will organize torch relay activities in their respective counties.