Torch bearers sought for bicentennial

GREENFIELD — If you know someone who makes a difference in the community, now is the time to nominate them to be a torchbearer for Indiana’s bicentennial celebration.

This year marks the state’s 200th birthday, and celebrations are planned around the state, including a torch relay, which will pass through all 92 counties. When the torch makes its stop in Hancock County in October, 20 people will have the distinct honor of carrying it.

A Dec. 31 deadline to nominate deserving residents has been extended through the end of this month. Organizers of the county’s celebration said they’ve received 21 nominations for torchbearers so far, and they’re looking for more. The deadline to nominate someone is Jan. 31.

Bicentennial celebrations already have begun, but the torch relay designed to unify the state’s 92 counties won’t start until September. During a five-week time period, a torch will travel 2,300 miles through every county. It’s second-to-last stop is Hancock County on Oct. 14.

Local bicentennial organizers said past or present Hancock County residents from all walks of life may be nominated. A committee has been formed to select which of the county’s nominees will carry the torch, said organizer Shelley Swift.

Residents who have shown exceptional public service to their community, have excelled in their profession, performed an act of heroism or are an exceptional volunteer or leader are the type of people who should be honored by carrying the torch, according to organizers.

It could be a sheriff’s deputy, a teacher, the server at your favorite restaurant or a local farmer. So far, nominees are current or past residents of all ages, but most are from Greenfield. Organizers would like to see more nominees from Hancock County’s smaller communities, Swift said.

Coordinator Shelley Swift encouraged residents to nominate anyone they believe deserves to be recognized for their commitment to bettering Hancock County.

“This is a great way to recognize many of the great people that make this a great county to live in because they don’t get recognized every day,” she said.

Maria Bond, director of communications for Mt. Vernon schools, said the corporation’s administration chose to nominate a handful of administrators and students for the opportunity.

They’re people who are making an impact on the county, and the corporation wanted to take advantage of nominating Mt. Vernon students and principals to represent the county in a statewide event, she said.

“Carrying a torch would be an honor, and so we selected people who contribute substantially to the community in a positive way,” Bond said.

Although the county now has enough nominations to fill the spot for each of its 20 representatives, organizer Brigette Jones said she’d like to see more. It’s important to organizers that the people carrying the torch represent the best of Hancock County, so the more nominees there are to choose from, the better, she said.

The torch’s exact route through Hancock County has not yet been decided, but it will travel through all parts of the county, likely stopping in Fortville, New Palestine, Cumberland and Greenfield. The relay in Hancock County will end at the 4-H fairgrounds, where a birthday party is planned.

The nomination form can be downloaded at

At a glance

The deadline to nominate a torchbearer to represent Hancock County in the bicentennial torch relay has been extended to Jan. 31.

Twenty current or former Hancock County residents will be selected to carry the torch through the county when it makes it stop here on Oct. 14.

To nominate someone, visit

Can I be a torch bearer?

The Indiana bicentennial torch relay looks to honor Hoosiers who demonstrate:

  • Exceptional public service to their county and/or community
  • Achievement and excellence in their profession
  • Acts of heroism
  • Exceptional volunteer service and leadership to their neighborhood, community, region or state

To be a torchbearer, nominees must be a current or former resident of the county in which they are being nominated and must be able to carry the torch for one-fourth of a mile. 

Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or