Mayor Don Wesely today announced plans for an Abraham Lincoln Birthday Celebration Sunday, February 11, at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The Celebration will be free to the public and will feature exhibits, childrenís activities, an impersonators contest, a nationally-recognized Lincoln portrayer and performances by local, state and national musicians.
"We are very proud to have our city as the namesake of our sixteenth president," said Mayor Wesely. "This Celebration will be a wonderful opportunity for families to come together to learn more about the Great Emancipator and to celebrate his contributions to our country. We hope to make this an annual event."
A volunteer steering committee, headed by Wayne Boles of Telesis Inc., has been meeting since May to plan the Celebration. It is being sponsored by the City of Lincoln; Lincoln Benefit Life, the Celebrationís Inauguration Benefactor; and Updowntowners Inc. Other supporters include the Lied Center, the Nebraska Humanities Council, the Lincoln Public Schools, the Nebraska State Historical Society, the University of Nebraska and many other individuals, corporations and organizations. The Lincoln Area Agency on Aging will provide volunteers.
"This has been a community-wide effort, and we appreciate the involvement of all those who have put this Celebration together," said Wesely. "Because of their efforts, we are able to offer this educational and entertaining event free to the public."
Two two-hour performances are scheduled on the Lied stage, one at 3 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. The 3 p.m. performance will feature the 1st Nebraska Volunteers Band based in Fremont; Lincoln musician Chris Sayre; and University of Montana Professor Harry W. Fritz, Ph.D., who will speak and answer questions as President Lincoln. The 7 p.m. show will again feature Professor Fritz as well as musicians Jay Ungar and Molly Mason in concert. Ungar composed and performed on the Grammy-award winning soundtrack of the PBS series "The Civil War."
Fritz, Ungar and Mason will perform in several Lincoln schools on Monday, February 12.
A birthday party from 1 to 10 p.m. in the Lied lobby will include music from Sayre, childrenís toys and games, a student display, an exhibit of Lincoln photographs from Illinois and a book display from the University of Nebraska Press. An ice sculpture display is planned at the Lied entrance. Local Civil War re-enactors in authentic uniforms will mingle with the crowd and answer questions, and those attending are encouraged to wear costumes from the era. Those dressed as Abraham Lincoln can also sign up to win prizes in the "Impersonators Contest."
At a 2 p.m. ceremony in the Lied lobby, Mayor Wesely will issue a proclamation, present awards, lead the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" and cut the gingerbread birthday cake, a favorite of President Lincoln. A complete schedule of events will be released before February 11.
Free parking will be available to those attending the Celebration in both the Que Place Garage, 1111 "Q" Street, and the Market Place Garage, 925 "Q" Street. Parking stubs from those garages will be stamped by volunteers at the Lied Center.