Tracking the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay: Days 10–15
It’s rest day for the Bicentennial Flame, but we’re just getting started—let’s recap, shall we?
The Torch began its journey through Brown County State Park at a brisk pace as a torchbearer started out jogging into the entrance of the park. With all those hills and valleys, there’s no word yet on how long the speedy pace lasted. However, the Torch’s visit to the State Park was not only made memorable by Indiana turning 200 years old, but by Indiana State Parks celebrating their 100th birthday this year. In 1916, the state park system was established with McCormick’s Creek as the first state park in Indiana.
After sweeping through Brown County, the Torch made its way into Monroe County. Traveling around the Bloomington square and through Indiana University campus, a closing ceremony was then held on the courthouse lawn. I’m often asked: “After the ceremony, where does the Torch ‘sleep’ at night?” It’s a good question, one that required some digging to find the right person, and here it is. During the closing ceremony, the flame from the last torchbearer’s torch is transferred into a pedestal and stays there for whatever celebratory activities may ensue afterwards. When the festivities end for the night, the flame is transferred into a small lantern—built by an Indiana Artisan— and remains with a Bicentennial staff member for the night. Therefore, the flame never goes out. Unless a torchbearer drops it, of course—then we have to start anew.
Make sure to check out the state’s “Torchbearer Tales” here, by writer Michelle Kaufman. With torchbearers’ accounts from Scott and Jennings Counties, this piece gives a glimpse into the characters of those people running around carrying the flame.
Day 11 concluded memorably with Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Award winner Maria Pric, of Saint Mary of the Woods College (SMWC), one the last torchbearers of the day. Named after the founder of SMWC, the award embodies a school alumna who demonstrates devotion, purpose, and leadership, and “showers God’s grace onto others.” We’re guessing the Vigo County torchbearer-selectors had no qualms about Maria’s qualifications for the position—that’s just a hunch, though.
Bridgeton in Parke County was packed with the small town’s residents. See that white bridge in the background that says, “Cross this bridge at a walk”? That’s Bridgeton’s most prized possession. Touted as Indiana’s Most Famous Covered Bridge, obviously this historic site is held close to the town’s heart. The 267-foot-long covered bridge rests over Big Raccoon Creek, with a nine-foot waterfall cascading just below. Let’s be honest, how many covered bridges sitting over a waterfall have you seen lately? Its neighbor, the Bridgeton Mill, is yet another Indiana historic landmark and acclaimed Oldest Continually Operating Mill in Indiana. It’s been open every year for 180 years straight—you just don’t see dedication like this anymore.
Day 13 was a whirlwind to remember in Hendricks County last Friday. It’s not often the Torch gets to take a ride on the back of a racing hot rod, but when it does, it’s at 300 mph, no less. Lucas Oil Raceway welcomed the flame as torchbearer Morgan Lucas rocketed the fixture down the famous drag strip. Watch the launch here!
Speaking of racing, Day 14 showcased two new methods of transportation for the flame throughout Shelby County. Grand Racing & Casino jockey Albin Jimenez carried the torch for the first leg of the day on a retired thoroughbred horse. In addition, the Winning Triton Central High School Robotics Team designed a method for the torch to travel without the touch of human hands—duh, a robot.
Henry County veered away from a traditional closing ceremony style, and instead concluded the week with a roaring fire.
That concludes the third week of the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay. We’re over halfway there, Indiana!