Celebrate with the City at the A2 Bicentennial Blast-Off

A2 Bicentennial event location
Photo by Ben Milam.

Happy Birthday, Ann Arbor! There will be a lot of candles on your cake this year. 200, to be exact. A birthday this big needs to be celebrated all year long, and that is exactly what the city of Ann Arbor has planned for its bicentennial celebration. 

OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) will be hosting a  Bicentennial Blast-Off on February 21 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan. Amy Karbo, of Destination Ann Arbor, will emcee the event.

“Members of the Bicentennial Coordinating Committee have been invited to present at the meeting,” Karbo said. “We will share bicentennial news and events planned for the year, introduce the SmartTours program, talk about the fascinating history of Ann Arbor and Dexter (who is also celebrating their 200th birthday), and the Ann Arbor District Library will talk about their bicentennial-related programming.”

Presenters at the Blast-Off include Russ Collins of the Michigan Theater Foundation, who will tell stories of Ann Arbor and Dexter history and founding in 1824.

Andrew MacLaren, Ann Arbor District Library, will speak on the Bicentennial programs that will be offered throughout the year. 

Tour Ann Arbor with your smart phone

Norman Tyler, emeritus faculty of Urban and Regional Planning at Eastern Michigan University, will provide information on SmartTours, the self-guided tours that will allow participants to visit important sites in Ann Arbor’s history.

“Accessible by phone, participants can check out the fifteen self-guided online tours that our bicentennial committee members have worked tirelessly to create,” Karbo said. “Each tour has its own theme and includes a total of 177 sites. If you complete all 177, you will receive a certificate of completion signed by the mayor of Ann Arbor.”

A bicentennial legacy

Attendees at the Blast-Off will also learn more about the legacy projects that the city is undertaking in connection with the celebration. Fundraisers will be held at various events to support the renovation of the James L. Crawford Elks Lodge.

The city also plans to designate funds for the renaming and renovation of Bicentennial Park, formerly Fuller Park. New amenities include a universal-access splash pad, sculpture gardens, community garden plots and a new shelter building for park programs.


The Ann Arbor Bicentennial website will be updated with events throughout the year, and visitors to the site can check out the new logo and merchandise that is available for purchase.

Julie Roberts of Kindling Creative designed the logo, which is featured on all merchandise from t-shirts, hats, and hoodies  to travel mugs and totes.

“From the color scheme to the incorporation of the natural elements we are known for, the A200 logo symbolizes the beauty and history that is Ann Arbor,” Karbo said.

Join the party

Karbo is thankful for the community support for this historic commemoration, and encourages groups and individuals to find ways to join the party.

“This has been a true community effort,” Karbo said. “Spearheaded by Milton Dohoney, Ann Arbor City Administrator, the bicentennial committee is comprised of folks who are passionate about our city. There are representatives from area businesses, non-profits, students, educators, and more.”

“While a lot of groundwork has been laid thus far, there are still plenty of opportunities to become involved, as this will be a year-long celebration.”