Springfield, Illinois, March 29, 2012 – Officials from the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition and State Tourism Office, along with Mayor Mike Houston and President Abraham Lincoln, today announced that the popular Springfield “History Comes Alive” (HCA) living history program would expand from 8 to 12 weeks this summer.
According to Sarah Watson, Executive Director of the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition/Lincoln National Heritage Area, “As a result of a generous tourism grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity – Office of Tourism, the many partners in ‘History Comes Alive’ are again collaborating to make 2012 the best year ever for this exciting program.” ‘History Comes Alive’ will officially kick off on June 8 with the opening of the Civil War Medical Encampment on the grounds of the Old State Capitol (June 8-10).
Throughout the summer, visitors and residents will find the historic downtown and the Lincoln historic sites bustling and alive with costumed interpreters portraying the people who lived and worked in Springfield as Mr. Lincoln’s neighbors, friends and counterparts.
Every day, all summer long, guests will have the chance to meet Abraham Lincoln, attend an old-fashioned ice cream social, experience the President’s farewell address to his city, and converse with Lincoln contemporaries such as William Herndon, Elizabeth Edwards and General Grant. Period musical performances and plays from the era will be performed, along with living history programs, everywhere – at Lincoln’s Home, the Old State Capitol, Lincoln’s Tomb, the Presidential Museum, and a variety of other historic locations, as well as throughout the businesses and streets of downtown Springfield. Summer ‘History Comes Alive’ festivities will draw to a close on Labor Day Weekend with a free performance of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra on the grounds of the Old State Capitol. A full schedule of daily events will be available by the end of April via the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau Official Visitor Web Site (www.visit-springfieldillinois.com) and in a printed brochure.
Speaking on behalf of the Convention & Visitors Bureau and the City of Springfield, Mayor Mike Houston echoed his ongoing support for the “History Comes Alive” program. “It’s so important to keep our historic legacy alive and to find new and innovative ways to tell our story and to entice visitors to choose Springfield as their vacation destination. And, ‘History Comes Alive’ does just that,” says Mayor Houston.
“This program, and its continued success, is proof positive that great things can be achieved through partnerships. No one entity, standing alone, could make something like this happen. Whether it’s the sites and attractions putting the daily programs together, the scores of volunteers and staff performing the programs, the CVB executing a marketing program to bring visitors here, Memorial Medical Center and St. John’s Hospital stepping up to sponsor the Civil War Medical Encampment and the Illinois Symphony, or the State of Illinois making it possible to get the necessary funds to make it all happen, ‘History Comes Alive’ is the result of an unbeatable collaboration of both the public and private sectors.”
According to Jan Kostner, State Tourism Director, “Such partnerships and passion are exactly why Governor Quinn, and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity – Office of Tourism are fully behind programs such as ‘History Comes Alive.’” “This just makes sense in terms of spending tourism dollars – we’re building a program not just for now but for the future. Springfield has already seen some great successes as a result of this effort - including a 36% total growth in site visits at the participating historic sites since the inception of the program and nearly 200 domestic and international motorcoach groups adding ‘History Comes Alive’ to their agendas. And, those successes will continue to grow.”
Added Watson, “The Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, which serves as the overseer of the 42-county Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, is proud to be involved in this program. We’re hoping what’s being done in Springfield will encourage other Lincoln communities throughout Illinois to join forces with Springfield and adopt their own living history programs – so that one day – ‘History Comes Alive’ will define the visitor experience for anyone visiting Illinois in search of the Lincoln legacy.”
President Lincoln, portrayed by actor Fritz Klein, closed today’s program by inviting everyone to spend their summer vacation in Springfield – his hometown.