On Dec. 3, 2018, Illinois will celebrate the 200th anniversary of its admission to the Union as a state. Because a bicentennial is an important milestone in a state’s or a nation’s existence, Illinois’ bicentennial will be a year of statewide celebrations.

“The bicentennial of our statehood is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the many cultural, economic, academic, and political contributions that Illinois and its residents have made to the nation and the world,” said Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner in an executive order establishing the Illinois Bicentennial Commission and the Office of the Illinois Bicentennial.

Pekinite Christal Dagit, Tazewell County representative for the Illinois Bicentennial, made a public announcement Sunday during a small ceremony at Delavan’s Grand Army of the Republic Triangle to kick off the county’s celebrations.   

“It’s important to observe our state’s bicentennial, because it’s a way of paying respect to our nation’s history,” said Dagit. “Right after the state of Illinois was formed, the pioneers started coming into the area, and thanks to them, we have the lovely county that we now have.”

Bicentennial celebrations in Tazewell County officially began Monday with a flag-raising ceremony at Pekin City Hall. Tazewell County, along with counties throughout Illinois, will fly a state bicentennial flag throughout the year.

“It is my privilege to participate in this program,” said Judge Michael Risinger, presiding judge of Tazewell County and master of ceremonies for the flag-raising event. “It’s a special day, a special year and a special time for our state. I could not be prouder to be part of this. I encourage people to reflect on all the efforts that went into making Illinois part of our great nation.”

The program for the ceremony included a bagpipe recital, an invocation, a parading of the colors, the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a recitation of “The Pledge of Allegiance,” the raising of the Illinois Bicentennial Flag, and a 21-gun salute.

The public announcement in Delavan and the flag-raising ceremony in Pekin were just the first events in a year-long program of celebrations throughout Tazewell County.

“Every community will be doing something at different times throughout the year,” said Dagit. “There will be birthday parties, a formal tea in May at the Pekin Mineral Springs Park pavilion, and parades.”

For more information on the Illinois Bicentennial, visit https://illinois200.com.