On Dec. 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the Union. The year has been an occasion for parades, parties and patriotic displays throughout the state.

Tazewell County marked Illinois’ 200th birthday Monday with a lowering of the state bicentennial flag that had been raised in front of the Tazewell County Courthouse since last December.

“It’s been quite a celebration for this state,” said Tazewell County presiding judge Michael Risinger. “The State Historical Society and the Illinois Judges Association undertook an effort to distribute to all 102 county courthouses a Lincoln portrait. We got ours last month and it’s hanging outside of Courtroom 104. It’s Lincoln’s favorite portrait of himself and I encourage people to have a view of it if they haven’t already.”

The Tazewell Area Ceremonial Team was on hand to parade the colors, and an honor guard from the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department fired a 21-gun salute. Bagpiper Joe Britz provided a pre-ceremony musical interlude, Reverend Judith Guy of Mackinaw Christian Church led an opening prayer, and Camille McCarty performed “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

“Serving on the committee has been quite an experience,” said Tazewell County Board member and Tazewell County Illinois Bicentennial Committee member Carroll Imig. “I’ve learned so much about what Tazewell County contributed to the state. I was born and raised here, but I hadn’t known about things like the Spring Lake Club House that two sitting presidents visited in the 1800s, or the Civil War monument in Minier Park, or the canning factory in Washington that at the end of World War II was converted into a German prisoner of war camp.”

Tazewell County Veteran Assistance Commission Superintendent Steve Saal and Tazewell Area Ceremonial Team Provost Larry McWherter lowered the bicentennial flag, folded it, and presented it to Tazewell County Board chairman David Zimmerman. In addition to flying the flag in front of the courthouse throughout the year, the Bicentennial Committee flew it in parades for the Tremont Turkey Festival, Mack-Ca-Fest, the Morton Pumpkin Festival, the East Peoria Festival of Lights, the Hopedale Celebration, and the Minier Celebration.

“It was a very successful bicentennial year,” said Christal Dagit, president of the Tazewell County Museum and Bicentennial Committee chairwoman. “We enjoyed ourselves, we traveled the county, and we found new facts about our county’s history. Everyone I’ve talked to has enjoyed the year’s events very much and I think there’s been a lot of new interest in history generated.”