In celebration of Traverse City’s 125th birthday, a virtual community “Quarantine Quasquicentennial” birthday party is planned over the weekend of May 15–18. (And it’s gonna be a blast!)

Traverse City was incorporated on May 18, 1895. The community is invited to partake in the virtual celebration with several fun opportunities to celebrate Traverse City’s people, history, natural features, culture and strong sense of place.

“The City was thinking of having a festive community celebration to celebrate TC turning 125, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, original in-person plans were unfortunately canceled. While we may not be able to blow out 125 candles on her cake together, we certainly can have a birthday bash of a different kind,” says Benjamin Marentette, city clerk for the City of Traverse City.

In partnership with the City of Traverse City, Traverse City Tourism, and the National Cherry Festival, City Commissioner Ashlea Walter rallied to organize a virtual birthday party to commemorate this milestone and give community members something to celebrate while safely staying home and social distancing. Walter thought, “If one of my best friends were to have a milestone birthday party during the pandemic and we couldn’t celebrate in person, what would I do for her? I would want to throw her a virtual party and show her how much our community loved her.”

Ways to celebrate TC’s Birthday!

TC Bingo

Traverse City Tourism will offer a free Traverse City BINGO game. People are invited to explore a fun sampling of historic, natural and cultural features of Traverse City. Printable and fun for all ages to explore together. BINGO cards can be accessed ​here​.

Players can drop off their completed BINGO card with contact information to the National Cherry Festival office by May 31. Participants will be sent two certificates for a free slice of pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company. Kat Paye, executive director of the National Cherry Festival, shares, “​The National Cherry Festival is thrilled to be able to help Traverse City celebrate such a milestone. We thought what better way to celebrate than with a slice of cherry pie!”

Explore TC’s Great Outdoors

Traverse City’s Norte invites community members to celebrate by biking, walking, running, skipping or strolling a safe and healthy 125, 12.5, 1.25 or .125 miles around Traverse City. Norte Executive Director Ty Schmidt says, “We love Traverse City and encourage our friends and neighbors to safely explore and remain active every day. This is a special opportunity to enjoy our beautiful neighborhoods and open spaces and celebrate TC’s birthday. Outside is still not canceled!” Find more information here.

Celebrate at Home

On May 15, a “Happy Birthday, TC!” video led by Miriam Pico featuring Traverse City community leaders will be shared on social media. People are invited to sing along as they celebrate at home.

Celebrate virtually at 5 p.m. on May 18 with your favorite Traverse City-crafted beverage. Responsibly enjoy your favorite TC beverage of choice and share a virtual toast safely at home.

Get Some Swag!

Purchase and enjoy a “TC Birthday in a Box” at home. The $45 box will support local businesses and includes 12 custom TC birthday Morsels, the children’s book “Good Night, Traverse City” and the acclaimed “100 Things to do in Traverse City Before You Die” book, along with some party supplies. ​Order here​ by May 14 for local pickup and delivery by May 18: $5 from every box will benefit the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation Urgent Needs Fund.

Local T-shirt company TeeSeeTee created the official ​Quarantine ​Quasquicentennial ​birthday T-shirt. Remember Traverse City’s 125th Birthday during these unusual times with a T-shirt for adults and children. ​Order here​ by May 17 for local pickup and delivery by May 18: 90% of the profits will benefit the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation Urgent Needs Fund.

Organizers are encouraging community members to celebrate virtually and safely at home and share on social media/with your family. ​Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers says, “It’s an honor to be Mayor of Traverse City for our 125 birthday! Sadly due to this crisis, we can’t celebrate publicly as a community, but we can join together virtually, so please join in the celebration.”

A few more ways to celebrate: 

  • Sidewalk chalk art: I love TC because X
  • 1895 TC fashion
  • 1895 TC food
  • Share your favorite things, places, people or events in TC
  • Celebrate by ordering take-out from your favorite TC business
  • Learn a new fun fact about TC history and share
  • Send a thank you card to your favorite TC community leader
  • Ring bells, pots and pans at 8 p.m.
  • Make a list of your favorite 125 things about Traverse City
  • Share how you say “​quasquicentennial”

Engage on Facebook here.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner