Hoosier pride. Hoosier hospitality. Hoosier homecoming. Growing up in Indiana has given me various opportunities. Indiana is located in the Midwest; easily accessible to the east coast and northern part of North America. Residents of Indiana could be at the Atlantic Ocean in just over 12 hours, and to the Canadian border in a little over 8 hours. Even though I have traveled to both of those locations, no distance can keep me from the Hoosier state.
Indiana has so much to offer; there is more than just corn here in Indiana. There are state parks spread all over the state. There are historical landmarks that represent what it means to be a Hoosier to many people. This is a place that presidents, representatives, and senators have called home. There is access to lakes and rivers that leads residents and tourists on adventures into the beauty of the state. There are Friday night football games that bring Hoosiers together by splitting a hotdog and a nice cold soda. There are basketball games through the fall and winter months. Indiana has all 4 seasons. Indiana has a lot and that is why I call it home.
As Hoosier Homecoming inched closer and closer the #INTorchRelay, was active in promoting the event and showcasing the work Ball State, Purdue, and IUPUI students have had over the course of 6 weeks. As I was retweeting and sharing the various posts, I got very excited about the arrival of the torch to Indianapolis, my childhood home. There was a lot of hype surrounding the arrival, and naturally it made me proud to be a Hoosier.
When I arrived with my family early that afternoon, the food trucks were just setting up and the last minute touches were being put on the birthday party festivities. My family was volunteering that day through IU Health and I was assisting with the home-team for Ball State when needed, but most of all I was there to celebrate the homecoming of the awaited torch with my fellow Hoosiers. At noon, the party finally got underway. Local bands were playing and WISH- TV was covering all of the events that day. As I meandered around the Bicentennial Plaza taking pictures and soaking in all the sounds and sights, I grew closer and closer to what it means to be a Hoosier. There were individuals dressed in period attire, and a multitude of activities for all ages. The Indiana State Library was open to the public for free, allowing them to explore the various interactive activities for children of all ages. When I walked through the library I passed by a long line of student-created Indiana signs. Each of them was carefully crafted and designed to represent what Indiana means to them. It was so beautiful passing by these pieces of art and realizing how Indiana has so much to offer, and how each and every resident showcased their home of Indiana.
As the program got underway, various individuals were recognized and spoke to the crowd. Governor Mike Pence dedicated Bicentennial Plaza to Indianapolis and Karen Pence spoke about the 1500 initiatives the state has taken in honor of Indiana’s bicentennial. The ceremonies continued and my definition of what it means to be a Hoosier expanded even more. As I saw the expressions on people’s faces and passed by light-hearted conversations people were having, I realized that being a Hoosier is so special.
When the torch finally arrived a little after 4 o’clock, my excitement began to overflow. All I could think about was the fact that the torch had been carried through 91 other counties and over 2,000 torchbearers held this uniting force.
As the torch made its way down newly dedicated Bicentennial Plaza, crowds of mothers, fathers, children, and even dogs had their eye on the torch. Race car driver, Sarah Fisher, drove the torch in a newly designed race car celebrating the torch relay. Ball State students, Purdue students, IUPUI students, and the rest of the torch relay team walked the torch to the mainstage. An uproar of clapping and smiles caressed over the crowd. Pictures were being snapped and videos were being taken. This was once in a lifetime. My heart was so full in this moment. There was so much Indiana happening at once and I could not be happier.