Pritzker to join Rauner for bicentennial gala
Venue shifts to Navy Pier for Dec. 3 celebration due to weak ticket sales at United Center
By Ted Cox
Illinois is coming together to celebrate its bicentennial.
“There is no better place to start uniting than at an event that celebrates the greatness of Illinois,” Rauner said in a statement from a news release issued Monday.
“Just as Illinoisans of all backgrounds have united and pushed our state forward for 200 years, we will celebrate our bicentennial as one Illinois,” Pritzker added. “We are the land of Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, home to the world's leading companies and universities, an economic powerhouse of the Midwest and agriculture powerhouse of our country. Together, we will ring in our third century with hope and optimism and strive to build on the progress of the 200 years before us.”
“We will celebrate our bicentennial as one Illinois.”
Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker (One Illinois/Ted Cox)
Otherwise, the program is expected to remain the same from what was announced in early October, although the Governor’s Office of the Bicentennial did add Monday that the venue would shift from Chicago’s United Center to Navy Pier, a change “necessitated in part by weaker than expected tickets sales during the month preceding the election.”
The headline act is a “Gettysburg Address Rap” performed by Miguel Cervantes, star of the Chicago production of the musical “Hamilton,” who will pay homage to Abraham Lincoln’s most renowned speech. Others stars committed to attend include newscaster Bill Kurtis, actor Joe Mantegna, and Olympic athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, as well as blues musician Buddy Guy.
Even so, it couldn’t generate enough ticket sales at $50 and $75 to keep the event at the United Center.
“The bicentennial celebration has been staged without the benefit of any state funding,” said Stuart Layne, executive director of the event. “This move means that we can stay on budget and still put on a memorable party for this landmark occasion.”
Those who bought tickets can use them to attend the event in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, still scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, or contact Ticketmaster for a refund.