Wheaton officials and history buffs gathered outside city hall Monday to help launch a yearlong celebration of the state's 200th birthday.

Mayor Michael Gresk read a proclamation as towns across Illinois held flag-raising ceremonies at noon in honor of the official start to the state's birthday bash. Bicentennial events and a social media campaign over the next 365 days all lead up to a gala party at the United Center on Dec. 3, 2018 -- 200 years after Illinois became the 21st state in the nation.

"Our community recognizes the importance of our bicentennial celebration as a way to honor citizens and the history of our great state, and set a course for success over our next 200 years," Gresk read from the proclamation.

The Wheaton Historic Commission helped organize the Wheaton ceremony, Chairwoman Nancy Flannery said.

"We're all here to make Illinois a better place to be," she said.