TIPPECANOE COUNTY, WARREN COUNTY, FOUNTAIN COUNTY (October 12, 2016) – It was day thirty of the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay on its 3,200-mile journey across the state. The torch relay is the most far-reaching event of the Indiana Bicentennial celebration and will touch all 92 Indiana counties. Today’s festivities in Tippecanoe, Warren & Fountain Counties, were coordinated by local organizing committees comprised of community leaders and volunteers.
The Bicentennial Torch Relay had an early kick off this morning in Tippecanoe County with a 7am pancake breakfast in Columbian Park followed by a proclamation and short ceremony attended by Mayors, Commissioners, and several torchbearers. The relay officially started at 8:30 when Tippecanoe’s first torchbearer, Richard Boehning walked his quarter-mile with a large contingency following capturing the moment with their phones, cameras, and tablets.
At the Hahn Mansion, residents of the Indiana Veterans Home and an American Legion Honor Guard as well as a pep band playing “On the Banks of the Wabash” were present when torchbearers Bob and Ellie Haan picked up the torch and eventually passed it along to runner Dushaun Goings.
Along the route through Lafayette, residents continued to follow the flame past the Lafayette Art Museum where a drum circle took place out front until it reached downtown.
As the torch circled the magnanimous courthouse in downtown Lafayette, the Jefferson Bands and color guard played a lively rendition of “Back Home Again in Indiana.” Seemingly every business person within a couple square miles was also near the square, supporting the bicentennial events taking place in their city.
The torch then made its way over the Wabash River officially bringing the flame to West Lafayette, entering Purdue University. In all, there were 20 participants representing a variety of aspects of the university from administrative, the student body, athletics, community engagement, and alumni.
The Boilermaker Special made an appearance carrying the team of School of Engineering students, professors, and staff who designed and brought the torches themselves to fruition.
Towards the end of the county, the caravan made its way to Klondike Middle and Elementary Schools where they were greeted by hundreds of students holding handmade Indiana flags and birthday signs, cheering, chanting and singing happy birthday to our state. At the school was also the marching band in full regalia.
The caravan make a quick stop at the Wabash Township Fire Department before heading out to Warren County, the 85th of the relay.
The flame was passed off to the first torchbearer, former State Representative Joe Micon, a Purdue alumnus, who was greeted by students from Pine Village Elementary School decked out in matching Happy Birthday Indiana t-shirts and blowing bubbles in celebration. The students performed a rendition of Happy Birthday they had been practicing.
The next stop for Warren County was at the powershow grounds, home to the Illiana Antique Power Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the early rural way of life and mechanical marvels that changed farming. The torch traveled on a horse and buggy, steam engine, miniature train, and tractor before taking a ride on the 21st century Warren County Ambulance.
While traveling the county roads on the way to Williamsport, it was pointed out that Warren not only is a county with no stoplights, but there are no interstate highways either.
The next torchbearers rode in a John Deere Gator donated for use by a local dealership and passed by the Warren County 4H fairgrounds as well as an American Legion Post with a gentleman outside saluting the caravan as it went by.
The county line going from Warren into Fountain happens to take place at a bridge over the Wabash River, in the City of Covington known as the Town on the Banks of the Wabash.
After the 17 torchbearers each took their turn rowing, running, and walking the torch through Covington, the county seat, the cauldron was lit at the Bicentennial Experience, marking the end of day thirty.
At the closing ceremonies, which took place near the gazebo at the Covington Courthouse, each torchbearer was honored and a little bit of their backgrounds and why they were chosen to represent their community, was relayed to the gathered crowd, who were braving the evening rain showers.
The torchbearers then got together and thanked the local organizing committee for their time and dedication, the research they completed, and their overall enthusiasm to provide this opportunity for local citizens to be torchbearers in the Bicentennial Torch Relay.
None other than a General Lew Wallace reenactor (after a shout out for the book, Ben Hur) asked for a round of applause was for the State Police personnel and torch relay staffers who have been on the road since September 9th, traveling just over 3,000 miles to date.
On October 15, 2016, you’re invited to Hoosier Homecoming from Noon – 5:00 p.m. on the Indiana Statehouse Campus. Hoosier Homecoming is a free, family-friendly event celebrating Indiana’s 200th birthday. It is also the grand finale of the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay. The torch will be used to illuminate an everlasting light for Indiana that will serve as an homage to the state’s first 200 years and an inspiration for generations of Hoosiers to come. The everlasting light will be part of the new Bicentennial Plaza on the west side of the statehouse.