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Welcome! We’re so glad you’re here with us, as we continue our year-long celebration of Bloomington and Monroe County’s 200th birthday. And what a celebration it’s been! From our New Year’s Eve party to our downtown street fair, with flags and banners and buttons, we’ve celebrated from bicycles and with parades and watching fireworks -- wait a minute -- this sounds like a Dr. Seuss book!

Happy birthday with a fair, happy birthday from the air!

Today our Bicentennial festivities continue with a very special celebration, the celebration of all of you young artists in our community. And at the same time, today, we are celebrating the many people who have contributed over the years to making Bloomington the unique and vibrant place that it is. You talented young artists have become talented young historians by discovering them!  Spending time at the Monroe County Public Library and here, the History Center, you have gotten acquainted with folks you may not have heard of before -- folks WE may not have heard of before -- folks who, because they came from a minority or otherwise underrepresented group, may have been ignored in their time. Who did you learn about? What was their life like when they lived in Bloomington? Did you learn anything that surprised you?

After you discovered your hidden history hero -- or heroine -- we asked you to share your discovery using art. You could use crayons, paint, clay, your camera, collage  -- anything! -- to introduce us to this special person who’d played a role in our city. I am so eager to meet your hidden history hero or heroine and see how you imagined them. Thank you for getting involved in your community by diving into our past and using your talents to help us all understand and appreciate this place -- and the people who made it what it is -- a little better.  

But before that, a few thank yous. Many of our staff have worked hard on this Bicentennial celebration throughout the year, led by our Community and Family Resources Department and our Parks and Recreation Department. Thank you to our dedicated staff for planning this joyous 200th birthday celebration. And a special thank you to the planning team for tonight’s colorful and creative event. The Bicentennial Arts Contest was created by representatives from:


Bloomington Arts Commission

Human Rights Commission

Commission on the Status of Black Males

Commission on the Status of Children and Youth

Commission on the Status of Women

MLK Birthday Celebration Commission

Representatives from Monroe County


I’d like to include a special thank you to City employee Sue Owens, from our Community and Family Resources Department. Sue joined this project after the retirement of one of her colleagues, and she’s done great work coordinating with the contest committee to make tonight happen.

And finally, thanks to you, our young artists. This contest was created to celebrate diversity, understanding and acceptance and we thank you for learning and discovering and creating along the way.

Happy birthday with your art, happy birthday from your heart!

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