- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) — Happy 200th Birthday, Honest Abe! The nation is preparing to throw you a party.

The celebration will be focused in the nation’s capital, where museums, theaters and other attractions announced plans Thursday for more than 80 exhibits and programs in the coming months to celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln‘s birth. The events will run from January through the end of April.

“I haven’t heard anything about a birthday cake,” a Lincoln look-a-like said, interrupting the announcement Thursday.

Organizers assured the bearded “president” he would get a slice of his favorite vanilla-almond cake – and a giant birthday card signed by thousands around the nation. Other programs are planned in all 50 states.

“I do have a feeling this may be the brightest and best and most glamorous, but I won’t tell that to the people in Los Angeles,” said Eileen Mackevich of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

The D.C. festival’s highlights include a reenactment of Lincoln’s second inaugural ball Jan. 31 in the historic building that now houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Ford’s Theatre – where Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 – will also reopen after an extensive renovation.

The National Park Service will celebrate the 16th president’s birthday on Feb. 12 at the Lincoln Memorial with singer Michael Feinstein offering a musical tribute.

The memorial will be rededicated on Memorial Day – four score and seven years after its 1922 dedication, said Lance Hatten, the Park Service’s chief interpreter for the National Mall.

The National Museum of American History, reopening Nov. 21 after a major overhaul, will display a copy of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. In January, the museum will open “Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life,” with more than 60 artifacts from the president’s life. Another exhibit will feature documents from the Lincoln Presidential Library in Illinois, including a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Other events will commemorate Lincoln’s early life in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. And nearly a dozen cities plan to host forums on race and equality, including D.C., Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia.

The Lincoln festival will capture some of the excitement building around the election, said William Hanbury, president of the tourism bureau Destination D.C.

“D.C. will benefit dramatically from the change of president,” Hanbury said. “People are going to come to be inspired.”

Dozens of Lincoln impersonators are expected to flood the city in April, when the American Association of Lincoln Presenters holds its annual convention in suburban Maryland.

“We’re hoping the White House is hospitable to some of us Lincolns so we can see some of our old rooms,” said Dan Storck, a Lincoln actor. “We’re hoping for an invitation.”


On the Net:

Lincoln in Washington: https://www.lincolnindc.com/

Lincoln Bicentennial Commission: https://www.abrahamlincoln200.org/

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