After holding a kick-off event Tuesday evening, Quincy, Ill., is launching a yearlong series of events to celebrate its 175th anniversary.
Quincy's Mayor Kyle Moore said various community events and concerts will round out the festivities throughout the year. An anniversary bash in May during the city's dogwood celebration will feature a parade with a #Quincy175 theme and a Saturday night street concert. Four regional acts will perform.
The city will also hold an all-faith communitywide church service, followed by a waterfront concert featuring three Top 10 Christian recording artists.
The events were organized by a team of about 30 people, Moore said, and all events are being paid for through private donations. So far, $50,000 has been raised.
Each month throughout the year will be a "celebration of heritage," Moore said. The city will use social media to share information about the industry, parks, social services and health care that makes Quincy unique, Moore said.
Moore said the city is also offering a special app, "Passport to Quincy," to lead tourists through the town to top landmarks. If people complete questions at all 15 sites, they get their virtual passport stamped and will be entered into contests, Moore said.
"So many times in our today's society, people take their city for granted and you forget the rich heritage that your city has and we have so much to be proud of in the city of Quincy, to celebrate our past, and to celebrate our future, so it's a good reason to celebrate town we love and live in," he said.
Putting Quincy 'on the map'
The city was founded in 1822, with its articles of incorporation signed on Feb. 3, 1840 -- the same day as the anniversary's launch. A year before that, Moore said, Quincy put itself "on the map" by taking in 5,000 persecuted Mormons from Missouri, Moore said.
Later that year, the city also housed and fed 800 Potawatomi Native Americans as they traveled on the "Trail of Death" march. During the Civil War, the city served as an important stop on the Underground Railroad, Moore said. In more recent times, thousands of Quincy's residents helped their Missouri neighbors with sandbagging during severe flooding. Moore said that reflects the city's "selfless community."
"If somebody is in need, there’s not a time when the citizens of Quincy don’t come to their aid," Moore said. "The city of Quincy's really built ourselves on culture of caring and that's really something you see today carried out 175 years later."
As for the future, Moore said the city of about 40,000 people is "doubling down on education" after passing an $89 million bond referendum to build new public elementary schools and remodel a high school. Some of those buildings, Moore said, were more than 100 years old and not ADA compliant.
Moore also said more businesses are investing in the community. In the last year, 1,300 more people have been employed in the county. He also called the city's arts and culture scene "thriving."
"I'm most looking forward to at the end of the year, somebody walking up and saying, 'I didn’t know there was that much to do in your city and I learned a lot about the city of Quincy,'" he said. "If we accomplish that goal, it will be a good year for Quincy."