Abe's party set to begin in February

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

PEKIN - Imagine somebody throwing you a two-year-long birthday party.

A bit excessive for most of us, but not if you are Abraham Lincoln and you're 200 years old.

Tazewell County's Historic Places Society President Christal Dagit says the county is planning a party for arguably America's greatest president, starting on his birthday Feb. 12, 2008, until sometime in 2010.

Tazewell County's celebration will coincide with other activities around the nation.

Dagit was appointed chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission by the Tazewell County Board in September.

Since then, she has made substantial progress with her party plans.

Lincoln's bicentennial birthday will serve as a tourism attraction as well as a celebratory commemoration, Dagit said, and there will be many activities available for young and old throughout those two years.

Back in September, Dagit said she was bouncing around ideas for an Abe Lincoln float to be used in parades throughout the county, a birthday costume ball, an Abe Lincoln look-alike contest, era re-enactments, and an Abe Lincoln walk (or drive) from Mackinaw to Tremont to Pekin, the three towns that have served as Tazewell's county seats.

Now, she also hopes for era re-enactments, plays, and more, and asks for help from the citizenry to make it happen.

So far, Dagit has rounded up quite an impressive lineup for her Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, including co-chairmen Pekin Mayor David Tebben and Tremont Mayor Todd Bong, honorary chairmen Ill. Sen. David Koehler, Ill. Rep. Mike Smith and Ill. Sen. William Brady, and various local officials from Pekin, Mackinaw, East Peoria and others.

But she still needs more people, Dagit said, and asks that anyone in Tazewell County interested in serving on the committee, or participating in the re-enactments or other activities to call her.

“We've got two years to plan,” Dagit said, “so we want to do a good job.”

Dagit wants the Lincoln Bicentennial to reflect the people of Tazewell County, she said.

“I feel like this should be the citizens of Tazewell County and Pekin's choice on how they want to celebrate the bicentennial,” Dagit said.

Dagit said that the Tazewell County Museum will soon host an afternoon “Lincoln Tea” at the Dragon's Dome, and also plans to arrange several bus trips to Springfield to different Lincoln sites, including the Springfield Museum, Lincoln's home, and the cemetery where he's buried.

Dagit said that Lincoln, who lived in Springfield for much of his life, had more legal papers in the Tazewell County courthouse than in any other county outside of Sangamon County. Those papers have since been moved to the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, she said.

The first meeting of Tazewell County's Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Pekin Public Library, where Pekin Public Library director Jeff Brooks and County Board Chairman Jim Unsicker will moderate.

The public is invited, Dagit said, and anyone interested in the Lincoln Bicentennial should attend.

Dagit said that she also plans to hold a public meeting sometime within the next couple weeks.

For more information, call Christal Dagit at 346-1889.