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Indiana celebrates 200 years with ‘Hoosier Homecoming’ celebration

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana celebrated its 200th birthday Saturday by taking a look back at the state’s history and celebrating its future.

Hoosiers lined the streets to watch Indiana’s bicentennial flame move through the state capitol. Some families told 24-Hour News 8 they traveled near and far to help celebrate Indiana’s birthday.

Hoosiers of all ages enjoyed a day of celebrating and learning about Indiana’s history.

“When I saw that the celebration was happening today I was really excited to bring the family so we can have a tangible you know discussion about the birthday,” said Dwaun Watson, who attended the celebration.

Watson took his two daughters and son. His 10-year-old daughter said she was hoping to see a familiar face.

“I want to see Governor Pence because he came to our school last year and I want to be able to see him for real,” said Mataya Watson, who attended the celebration.

Governor Mike Pence took time off from the campaign trail to help celebrate on stage.

“I want to thank my fellow Hoosiers for coming out today bringing children and grandchildren alongside to really celebrate this moment,” he said.

Over the past five weeks, torch bearers carried the flame through every Indiana county.

The flame passed the historic Walker Theatre around 2 p.m. One of the torch bearers, A’Lelia Bundles, is the great-great granddaughter of Madame C.J. Walker.

“I’m just really excited to be a part of this history,” Bundles said.

Julia Whitehead carried the torch from the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. Whitehead founded the library to honor the late author and Indy native.

“He was really an important American thinker about protecting our troops and protecting our environment and public libraries and public schools,” Whithead said.

The flame moved by Indy’s landmarks.

The caravan stopped at the Eli Lilly Campus, Lucas Oil Stadium and Monument Circle.

At the circle, a Purple Heart recipient and Indy native, Gerald Glaze, picked up the torch.

“It means a lot. My family’s here to see all this. We have great pride in the state of Indiana and Indianapolis,” Glaze said.

Even some out-of-towners joined the celebration.

Sen. John McCain stood on the steps of the Indiana War Memorial as the flame passed.

After a trip through Fountain Square, torch bearers took the flame to the Statehouse.

That’s where IndyCar driver Sarah Fischer drove the flame across Robert D. Orr Plaza.

The flame traveled 3,200 miles over the past five weeks.

Two stages were set up to provide entertainment through the day, which included  the Hunter Smith Band and Janet Gilray’s Voices in Time.

Some people also dressed up in costumes to re-live history.

“Everyone thinks that Illinois is the land of Lincoln but I grew up here,” said Abraham Lincoln, who was played by an actor. “My morals, values, and ethnics formed here I learned to read here.”

Families enjoyed hours of free entertainment and activities, like tours of the state house and library. Food trucks also set up for business down the street.

“We have been trying new foods, we went over there and then we got free books after we did challenges at the stand,” said Layla Ambriole, who attended the celebration.” We went into the library and we went into the cool kids place.”

Ambriole made the trip from Huntington Indiana with her family. She said she learned one thing today about Indiana’s history.

“Well, it’s super fun and they said that… well we really didn’t listen they said that it’s just super old,” she laughed.

The Hoosier Homecoming kicked off at 12 p.m.

For more Bicentennial stories, click here.