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Western Illinois Helps Kickoff State's Bicentennial Celebration

Rich Egger
Macomb police officers Brendon Coloumbe (left) and Joel Clausing, both part of the department’s honor guard, raise the Illinois Bicentennial Flag on the south side of Macomb City Hall. ";

Brief ceremonies were held around Illinois -- including at the McDonough County Courthouse and Macomb City Hall -- to mark the start of the state's bicentennial year. 

The first event in Macomb took place on the south lawn of the courthouse, where Sheriff Rick VanBrooker and Chief Deputy Nick Petitgout raised the state’s bicentennial flag.

County Board Chair Scott Schwerer said he researched the state’s history and came across some interesting facts.

“The name Illinois comes from the Algonquin Indian tribe and it means Illiniwek, which means ‘man.’ And the French trappers then changed it to Illinois,” he said

Schwerer said he also learned about the state’s original nickname.

“Illinois was called ‘The Sucker State’ because the miners from the southern third of Illinois traveled up to Galena, they mined up there all summer, and then they traveled back to their homes in southern Illinois just as the sucker fish migrated.”

Illinois is now nicknamed The Prairie State. 

Schwerer said the state’s first capital was Kaskaskia and the first governor was Shadrach Bond.

Macomb Also Raised the Bicentennial Flag

The city followed with its ceremony just a few minutes after the county event concluded.

Mayor Mike Inman hoped the bicentennial celebration helps people focus on the good things Illinois offers.

“Even with all our bumps and warts and everything else, Illinois is still a great state,” said Inman. “The bicentennial is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it gives us a good reason to get together and celebrate. It’s pretty cool.”

Inman said the city completed paperwork to sign up its Heritage Days festival as a participating event in the state’s bicentennial year.

Illinois became the 21st state on December 3, 1818.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.