South Bend, Ind., celebrating its sesquicentennial in 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – The year 2015 is South Bend’s 150th birthday, and the city is getting ready to mark the occasion.

Starting Friday and continuing throughout the year, there will be a communitywide celebration of the city’s past, present and future.

The year will offer a host of community events, competitions, entertainment and other ways for residents to learn more about the city – including a major weekend birthday celebration in May.

“It’s my hope that people will engage with the city in ways they haven’t before,” Aaron Perri, chair of the South Bend 150 committee and executive director of Downtown South Bend Inc., told the South Bend Tribune.

Part of the goal of the year’s celebration is to encourage residents to plan for the city’s future, Perri said. “When people get an attachment to the city, a transformation can happen,” he said.

An anniversary celebration “gives you a chance to look at what you’ll be in the future,” St. Joseph County historian John Kovach said. “You have to be able to reinvent yourself,” he said, noting that what became South Bend transformed itself from a fur trading post into an industrial center and is moving into a new era.

The St. Joseph Valley had long been occupied by American Indians. The first permanent settlers arrived here in the early 1820s, and South Bend formally incorporated as a city and elected its first mayor in 1865.

The peak of the year’s festivities will be May 22-24, which has been dubbed a birthday weekend celebration. May 22 is the anniversary of South Bend being granted a city charter.

Activities that weekend will include a “Taste of South Bend” event featuring food booths operated by locally owned restaurants, a temporary garden created on the Jefferson Boulevard Bridge, an “Artisan Alley” event, a sports-oriented Adventure Park, bumper cars on the base of the Howard Park Ice Rink, a Gus Macker basketball tournament, a Kids Zone, a “Tech Hub” showing off area technology developments, a wine/beer mixer, a zip line across the St. Joseph River, three South Bend Cubs home games at Four Winds Field, fireworks and more. A South Bend River Lights sculpture will be unveiled May 22.

The May celebration will be a great reason for former South Bend residents to come home for the weekend, and organizers hope former residents will visit and perhaps plan reunion events here during 2015, said Rob DeCleene, executive director of Visit South Bend Mishawaka.

Mugs and shirts with the SB150 logo are available for purchase at Studebaker National Museum.

Each month during the year, SB150 will focus on a theme. January’s theme is landmarks, and on Jan. 19 (Martin Luther King Jr. holiday) many area museums and other landmarks will offer free public admission.

A torch run through the city’s neighborhoods, an essay contest and a photo contest also will be included in the year’s celebration. Some other events scheduled during the year:

  • Indiana University South Bend’s Schurz Library until Jan. 31 will present a free exhibit, “A History of IU South Bend in 30 Objects.”
  • The annual South Bend Brew Fest, on Jan. 24 at Century Center, will feature at least 150 area craft beers. See:
  • Studebaker National Museum in February will open a new exhibit about the history of the Studebaker family, and later in the year will unveil a “South Bend Then and Now II” photo exhibit. In June, The History Museum in South Bend will open a display of architectural fragments of buildings that formerly stood in South Bend, accompanied by historic photos showing the buildings themselves.


Information from: South Bend Tribune,

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