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Mayor's Office Heading City Letter Head

February 3, 2003
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Laura Levy, Celebration Committee Chair, 472-8321
Deb Johnson, Updowntowners Inc., 434-6900
Teresa Ingram, Lincoln Benefit Life, 328-5114
Kevin Luke, Lincoln Benefit Life, 328- 5110

Jay Ungar and Molly Mason make return appearance with family

Mayor Don Wesely today announced plans for the City’s third annual Abraham Lincoln Celebration from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, February 16, at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. The Celebration is free to the public and will feature a nationally recognized Lincoln portrayer and internationally acclaimed folk musicians Jay Ungar and Molly Mason.

“This is an entertaining and educational event for all ages,” said Mayor Wesely. “It’s a great opportunity for families to spend an afternoon at the Lied Center learning more about our history and enjoying the music, dancing, games and exhibits. It’s also a way for us to show our respect for the great man for whom our City is named and to wish President Lincoln a happy 194th birthday!”

A volunteer steering committee, headed by Laura Levy of the Lied Center, has planned the Celebration. Producers are the City of Lincoln and Updowntowners Inc., and the Celebration’s Inaugural Benefactor for the third year is Lincoln Benefit Life Company. Other supporters include the Lied Center, the Lincoln Public Schools, the University of Nebraska, State Farm, the Advertising Federation of Lincoln, the Lincoln Journal Star, KLKN-TV, Time Warner Cable, KFOR-KFRX and many other individuals, corporations and organizations.

“Lincoln Benefit Life is pleased to again be the Inaugural Benefactor for this third annual Abraham Lincoln Birthday Celebration,” said Gene Wraith, President of Lincoln Benefit Life. “The event touches two of the causes our company and employees support – family and the arts. We know the community will again embrace this free celebration and have some fun while learning about the Great Emancipator.”

From 3 to 4 p.m. on the main stage, Jim Getty of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania will portray President Lincoln. Getty’s program has received the Pennsylvania Travel Excellence Award, and his voice was used as Lincoln’s in two A&E television programs. Getty, a native of central Illinois, also portrayed President Lincoln in the Turner Television film, “The Ironclads.” He has worked with the Close-Up Foundation, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Seminars.

From 4:15 to 5:45, the Jay Ungar and Molly Mason Family Band will perform on the main stage. Ungar and Mason performed for the first Abraham Lincoln Celebration in 2001 and return with Ungar’s daughter Ruth Ungar and her boyfriend Michael Merenda. Ungar and Mason achieved international fame when their performance of Ungar’s Ashokan Farewell became the musical hallmark of Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” on PBS. The soundtrack won a Grammy, and Ashokan Farewell was nominated for an Emmy. They have appeared on “A Prairie Home Companion,” their own public radio specials and “Great Performances” in addition to working on soundtracks for films and Ken Burns’ documentaries.

The Smith Family Band from Hastings will be back to perform Civil War era music for re-enactors and the public to dance starting at noon. At 2:15 p.m., Mayor Wesely will issue a proclamation, present awards, lead the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” and cut the birthday cake. Music with Lincoln’s Chris Sayre will continue until 4:15 p.m. The Lincoln Lutheran Junior High School Fife and Drum Ensemble will also perform throughout the afternoon.

A variety of Abraham Lincoln exhibits will be on display, and area Civil War re-enactors in authentic uniforms will mingle with the crowd and answer questions. Those attending are encouraged to wear costumes from the era. Those dressed as Abraham Lincoln can win prizes in the “Impersonators Contest” by registering at the information desk at the Lied.

Activities include children’s toys, games, crafts and displays from noon to 6 p.m., with storytelling by Virginia Opocensky scheduled for 1 and 1:30 p.m. in the Johnny Carson Theatre. Refreshments and souvenirs will be available.

Free parking will be available in nearby City garages – Que Place, 1111 “Q” Street; Market Place, 925 “Q” Street; and Haymarket, 9th and “Q” Street. Parking stubs from those garages will be stamped by volunteers at the Lied Center.

For volunteer opportunities please visit

2002 Abraham Lincoln Celebration Photos

InterLinc Home Page

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