Characterized by its culture, passion and innovation, Ann Arbor has been loved by residents since its founding in 1824. Today, the city is gearing up for its 200th birthday celebration with the help of the Ann Arbor Bicentennial Coordinating Committee. Though the committee’s website has not been published yet, Milton Dohoney Jr., city administrator and one of the committee’s co-chairs, laid out the broad plans for the celebration in an open letter to the community sent on Jan. 4.
“The plan is to celebrate the bicentennial throughout the entirety of 2024,” Dohoney wrote. “We are not simply planning some blowout event on a single day. We expect there to be different types of activities or events produced.”
After hearing a wide range of ideas to celebrate the bicentennial from Ann Arbor businesses and community members, Dohoney told The Michigan Daily he decided a committee was needed to help collect these ideas into an organized plan for the bicentennial.
“The aim of the coordinating committee is to bring the plans under a unified umbrella so that we can have a remarkable celebration that gives people several choices on how to celebrate the civic birthday,” Dohoney wrote. “The coordinating committee wants the community’s celebration to be fun, unifying and inclusive. There is a lot of work still ahead.”
According to the open letter, the celebration will be a collaborative effort between Ann Arbor businesses, organizations and other community members. Amy Korbo, co-chair of the Ann Arbor Bicentennial Coordinating Committee, told The Daily the committee has come up with several key areas, or “pillars,” that Bicentennial Celebration events will be focused around.
“So some of the pillars that we’re working within right now are natural resources, arts and culture, history and activism, education and then we have kind of a catch-all subcommittee that we’re calling ‘celebration,’’’ Korbo said. “In addition to that, we have some oversight committees that keep an eye on things such as funding, fundraising and finance, city planning, DEI efforts and also marketing and public relations.”
With the University’s close proximity to downtown Ann Arbor, some students shared with The Daily how they are excited to celebrate as well. LSA senior Madelyn Kim said she feels she has close ties in the Ann Arbor community, primarily from running a YouTube channel about life at the University and serving as president of Michigan Meetups, a club dedicated to exploring Ann Arbor and making friends.
“I really like Ann Arbor as a college town, there are a lot of things to do and not just school,” Kim said. “I just (think) it (is) so cool that like you can go from class to State Street and just go shopping. I love how the city of Ann Arbor, like State Street, Main Street, Liberty (Street) and all around there, is very incorporated with the campus.”
Kim said she thinks food-related events could do a lot to involve the campus community in the bicentennial celebration.
“I’m personally a big fan of free food events,” Kim said. “So I think if restaurants did (things) like (giving the) first 100 customers a free doughnut (that would be successful).”
According to the open letter, the Ann Arbor community should be expecting more announcements from the Ann Arbor Bicentennial Coordinating Committee in the coming weeks, including a website, logo and social media accounts. Dohoney said the Ann Arbor Bicentennial Celebration is meant to give residents and businesses alike the chance to pay homage to the city they call home.
“Let’s come together to appreciate the community we have chosen to live, work, learn or play in,” the letter read. “It is not perfect, but it’s working to get better. A fun-filled, unifying bicentennial celebration can help the community to do just that.”
Daily Staff Reporter Mary Corey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.