Babylon Town Historian Mary Cascone holds a copy of a publication...

Babylon Town Historian Mary Cascone holds a copy of a publication with Long Island's 1976 Bicentennial logo. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

Long Island historians and elected officials, looking ahead Monday to the region's celebration of the nation's 250th birthday, announced a contest to design a logo to be featured in marketing for events in 2026 and beyond.

The winning design will be one that “captures the essence” of Long Island’s role in the Revolutionary War and also honors "the brave heroes who fought for our freedom and the resilience of our incredible community,” according to the contest entry form on the website of tourism promotion agency Discover Long Island.

The monthlong contest is open to all Long Islanders. Members of the bicounty Long Island Semiquincentennial Commission, composed of historians for Long Island’s towns, Indian nations and historic Black communities, will winnow the top entries. The public will then vote for a winner on Discover LI’s social media channels.

There is no cash prize, but the winning design — posted on Discover’s website, licensed to dozens of historical societies and printed on signs for more than a year’s worth of events — will get millions of views, said Kristen Reynolds, Discover’s president and CEO.

“The level of exposure an artist will get being connected to Long Island is really significant,” Reynolds said. “This is going to be a huge event, something that people will come and plan their vacations around.”

The trove of designs surviving from the 1976 Bicentennial, when Suffolk and Nassau operated independent commissions, is impressive, ranging from the Nassau Police Benevolent Association's Liberty Bell design, printed on commemorative plates, now for sale on eBay, to that of Suffolk County’s Bicentennial Commission, a somewhat hipper, pillowy “‘76” superimposed on a map of the county.

Logos, said Susan Goetz Zwirn, a Hofstra University graduate director and professor of art education, are “about simplicity, design, color, shape, and they can convey a message in symbolic or metaphorical way.”

Some of the best, like the Nike swoosh, are the simplest, she said, but making this logo could be challenging because the country is so politically divided.

“Revolution is about rebellion, freedom, patriotism, nationalism, and those concepts have become politicized today,” she said.

In interviews, several town historians were cagey about their design preferences. “I’ll know it when I see it,” said Southold historian Amy Folk. As for the map motif, “We’ll probably get 10,000 of those.”

Babylon historian Mary Cascone said the winning design would need to be "eye-catching, able to grab people and let them know something’s going on, and inspire at least enough interest for them to want to find out more. It will help us brand the whole project,” enticing viewers to learn about Long Island’s history in the Colonial era and later, which was — in a word — complicated.

“Long Island was occupied by the British during the entire American Revolution, so we have a different story than many places have,” Cascone said, including some who fought, some who fled, and some who were loyal to the British. Town historians and local historical societies will offer a wide scope of programs still in development, she said.

“What we talk about in Oyster Bay won’t be what we talk about in Babylon," Cascone added.

Brookhaven historian Barbara Russell said some 2026 programs would cover Long Island’s post-Revolution history. “It’s important to realize how the country has moved forward in 250 years,” she said.

That is a lot of history — and probably too much — for a humble logo or “mark” to convey, said Rick Chiorando, CEO of AustinWilliams, a Hauppauge-based advertising and branding agency.

“You’re not going to get everything you need in there in a 3-by-3 circle,” he said. “The mark is going to be out there by itself, but 99% of the time it’ll be tied with the lectures and the website that are going to do the heavy lifting, explaining what the mark is representing,” he said.

His advice to artists was to go for something “bold and dynamic” with a “short shelf life.” And few professional artists could afford to take on a project like this for free, he said.

“I could start on the back of a napkin, but then I’m engaged," Chiorando said, "and 15 minutes will turn into days that could potentially turn into weeks.”

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