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City of Lincoln
Mayor's Office

2006 Media Releases

January 19, 2006
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831


Mayor Coleen J. Seng today announced plans for the City’s sixth annual Abraham Lincoln Birthday Celebration from noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, February 12, the 197th birthday of the 16th President. The celebration is free to the public and will take place again at North Star High School, 5801 North 33rd Street. For the first time, the celebration will include a recreation of a Lincoln-Douglas debate beginning at 2:30 p.m.

“On this one day a year, we give the public an opportunity to learn more about President Lincoln, his accomplishments and the time in which he lived,” said Mayor Seng. “We expect a great deal of interest this year in the presentation of one of the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates. We encourage families to come out to North Star for an entertaining and educational afternoon.”

Two Illinois actors will be featured in the debate. Michael Krebs will portray Lincoln, and Larry Diemer will portray Stephen Douglas. In 1858, Lincoln and Douglas faced off in a series of formal political debates in a campaign for one of Illinois’ two U.S. Senate seats. Lincoln lost that election, but the debates gave him the national exposure needed in his successful bid for the Presidency in 1860. Krebs and Diemer will recreate portions of the three-hour fifth debate, which took place October 7, 1858 in Galesburg, Illinois. They first performed the recreation in Galesburg in 1994 for a live broadcast on C-SPAN, a cable television public affairs channel. More information is available on Krebs’ Web site at

Krebs formed a theatrical company dedicated to performances concerning Lincoln in 1992. He has produced Visiting the Lincolns at Gettysburg, the Lincoln Presidential Museum, the Hoover Presidential Library, the Gerald Ford Museum and other sites and had an extended run in Chicago. While working at the Chicago Historical Society, he helped create an online analysis of Lincoln’s assassination for the Society’s Distance Learning Center. He has appeared on the History Channel (Conspiracy) and in the Library of Congress’ Mr. Lincoln’s Virtual Library.

Larry Diemer has been teaching and directing theatre at Galesburg High School since 1976. He has directed, acted in and/or designed more than 100 productions at his school and for the Prairie Players Community Theatre. He also plays in an Irish music band. He has been a technology coordinator for his school district and is working on a doctorate in human performance technology. Diemer first played Douglas after being selected in an open audition for the C-SPAN production.

Also on the schedule for February 12:

  • The Smith Family Band from Hastings will be back for its fifth year to perform Civil War era music for re-enactors and the public to dance starting at noon. This year, the Smiths will be joined by members of the Roundhouse Band.
  • Children can enjoy toys, games and crafts, with storytelling by Greg Welch of the South Branch Library scheduled for 1 and 1:30 p.m.
  • Those dressing as President Lincoln can enter the “Impersonators Contest” by registering at the information desk at North Star. Judging is at 1:30 p.m. All ages may enter.
  • A birthday party begins at 2 p.m. and includes a mayoral proclamation and Impersonators Contest awards.
  • Lincoln musician Chris Sayre will play folk and traditional music in the commons area from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

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. Refreshments and souvenirs will be available. For more information, see the City Web site at

Mayor Seng thanked the community donors who make it possible to offer the event free to the public. A volunteer steering committee headed by Cleve Reeves of Bahr Vermeer and Haecker has planned the celebration. Producers are the City of Lincoln and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Convention and Visitors Bureau.


In connection with the annual Abraham Lincoln Birthday Celebration, Professor Ken Winkle, Chair of the UNL History Department, will present a program on Lincoln at noon Friday, February 3 in the Steinhart Room at the Lied Center, 301 North 12th. His topic is “The Great Body of the Republic: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Plains.” The program is free, and those attending are invited to bring lunch.

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