AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine kicked off its celebration of its 200th birthday — and its separation from Massachusetts — by raising flags statewide Tuesday.

The kickoff of Maine’s bicentennial coincides with the 200th anniversary of the vote to separate the District of Maine from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in July 1819. Maine became a state in March 1820.

Gov. Janet Mills traveled with the Maine Bicentennial Commission on Tuesday to flag raisings at Presque Isle, Bangor, Portland and Augusta.

“Maine has a proud and storied history, and our bicentennial offers us the opportunity not only to honor it, but to recommit ourselves to the values that shaped us as a state and as a people,” said Governor Mills.

The governor announced upcoming events that will mark the bicentennial over the next year and a half.

Events are set to include a time capsule, smartphone app and a concert series. Sen. Bill Diamond, the Maine Bicentennial Commission chair, said grants are also available for community projects from parades to historic preservation efforts.

The Maine Legislature appropriated funding for the grants, which will also be supplemented by matching funds from private corporations and individuals. The state is setting up to 10% of the funds for small grants of $500 or less, while at least one grant of up to $10,000 will be available in each county.

The initial round of funding for grants is $375,000. The Maine Arts Commission is running the grant program, which has three application deadlines of Sept. 1, Feb. 1 and June 1.

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