By Shelby Mullis and Adrianna Pitrelli
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Bicentennial Commission had one goal in mind for the Hoosier Homecoming: bring the family together, eat good food and reminisce on Indiana’s history.
And they did just that.
The Bicentennial Plaza features new art structures. Over 100 artists submitted ideas for the permanent structures outside the Statehouse. Photo by Adrianna Pitrelli, TheStatehouseFile.com
Generations of Hoosiers gathered outside the Statehouse Saturday to celebrate the founding of the state 200 years ago in 1816.
For Gregg Held, of Bloomfield, volunteering at the event meant more than just a good time. The day is one that made him proud to be a 57-year resident of the Hoosier state.
“Being part of this celebration is surreal,” Held said. “There are people here from every corner of the state. They are coming together to eat, drink and be merry.”
Gov. Mike Pence and first lady Karen Pence joined in on the celebration Saturday afternoon, a day he called “unalterable” on his schedule.
“Indiana has so much to celebrate for these 200 years. Two hundred years of Hoosier progress. Two hundred years of Hoosier history,” Pence said. “But the best is yet to come for the people of Indiana and the state of Indiana.”
Held appreciated Pence’s efforts to take a break from the national campaign trail and come home to his fellow Hoosiers in honor of the state.
“It is also nice to see our governor making his way back to the state to talk to his constituents again,” Held said. “It is great that Hoosiers of both political parties will join together to see him.”
In the final stretch of the torch relay, the bicentennial torch made it home to the Bicentennial Plaza, located outside the west entrance of the Statehouse.
The newly-built plaza features a water fountain and two public art pieces. One represents the torch and another resembles a time capsule. The pedestrian space is open to all citizens and visitors of Indiana year-round.
“This Bicentennial Plaza is meant to be a place to think about how far we have come, and we can celebrate and reach even higher,” Pence said.
Painted bison made their way to the Statehouse lawn Saturday. Each county decorated a bison to commemorate the bison-tennial. Photo by Adrianna Pitrelli, TheStatehouseFile.com
Additionally, the commission unveiled the Statehouse Education Center, housed on the ground floor of the Indiana State Library. The center “enhances visitor experiences by supporting social studies and language arts curricula” and “offers interactive, dynamic exhibits” about the state government’s impact on Hoosiers, according to the bicentennial celebration website.
Tiffany Kropect, an Indiana educator, drove nearly 60 miles from her home in Spencer to tour the Statehouse, participate in the day’s festivities and experience the education center.
“I’m a teacher, so seeing where a lot of things that affect me and my students happens is a really cool opportunity,” she said. “It’s definitely a really cool thing to be part of. It’s like one big birthday party, and who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”
Shelby Mullis and Adrianna Pitrelli are reporters for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.