Torchbearers for Monroe County will participate today in the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay that began Sept. 9 as a celebration of Indiana’s 200th year of statehood.
Earlier this year, Laura Newton of VisitBloomington accepted nominations for torchbearers on behalf of Monroe County. The nominations were then submitted to a committee for judging. Newton said nominees were considered based on the service they had done for the community.
“Usually if we got a person who had passed away, there was another nominee who was willing to carry the torch in their honor,” Newton said. “Maybe a family member, or someone who worked with them.”
Bloomington Hospital Foundation president Jon Barada is one such nominee. Barada will be carrying the torch Tuesday on behalf of Roland “Bud” Kohr, former CEO and president of the hospital. Barada was nominated on behalf of Kohr by his rotary club.
“It was such an honor to be nominated,” Barada said. “To me this is about carrying on the tradition of excellence that came before.”
Barada will join other torchbearers Tuesday as they make their way through Monroe County’s route in different segments.
Newton said a Brown County torchbearer will pass the torch into Monroe County at around 3 p.m.
“I can’t say for sure what time the torch will arrive at each location,” Newton said. “It depends on how fast each torchbearer walks or jogs.”
The torch was designed at Purdue University to be visually similar to the Olympic torch. The torch weighs three and a half pounds and contains fuel to ensure the flame burns for 30 minutes.
“The flame actually hasn’t gone out since it was lit on Sept. 9,” Newton said. Ideally, the flame will continue to burn as it makes its way to the final stop in Indianapolis.
Not every nominee has to walk or run with the torch. Some nominees, including Barada, opted to accompany the torch in some form of transportation that was judged to represent Indiana heritage.
“I’ll be riding in a 1963 Lincoln Continental convertible,” Barada said. “I get to sit like a fair queen and wave.”
Newton said drivers on the Indiana 46 Bypass should expect to encounter a small caravan escorted by Indiana State Police around 3:30 p.m. Once that caravan reaches Rose Hill Cemetery on East Fourth Street, Newton said the torchbearers on foot would take over.
“It would be nice to have people cheering on the way,” Newton said. “It’s a neat way to be involved with this event.”
Around 3:45 p.m., the torchbearers will drop the torch off at the courthouse downtown to begin a celebration that will last from 4 to 7 p.m. on the courthouse lawn. From there, it will proceed to Owen County on Wednesday morning.
The torch relay is intended to be a visual representation of Indiana communities coming together in celebration. But Barada said he thinks there is more to it than that.
“It is a collective time to look back on history, but it’s also about planning the next 200 years,” Barada said. “There’s a lot of things that can be divisive in our state, but our heritage can bind us together. It sounds corny, but I believe that.”