Bicentennial plans shift after storm closes park

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Ceremony now planned for LaRue County High School

By Linda Ireland

The ice storm that hit Kentucky last week has created problems for the Lincoln Bicentennial celebration Feb. 12.

The event, marking the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth near Hodgenville, was to be held at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site and the Boyhood Home at Knob Creek.

However, both sites have been closed since the limbs started falling Tuesday night.

The new Lincoln penny was to be unveiled at the Birthplace that morning. A rededication ceremony for the refurbished replica cabin of Lincoln’s boyhood was to be held at the Boyhood Home later in the day.

Planners decided to combine the two events into one ceremony at the LaRue County High School gym, Sandy Brue, chief of interpretation and resource management at both sites, said Monday. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Details will be ironed out Tuesday evening.

Officials do not think the parks will be ready for crowds by Feb. 12.

“Both locations have been devastated by the ice storm. Every tree in the park has been affected,” said Brue. “Many cannot be saved – although efforts will be made to do so.”

“... the grounds look like a war zone,” she added.

Thousands of dollars worth of new plantings were destroyed, Brue said. The entire landscaping around the Memorial Building will have to be redone. The boardwalk connecting the visitor’s center with the Memorial Building is also unsafe.

The park is without electrical service; however, no damage was done to any of the buildings.

Brue has been working from the LaRue County Courthouse, where she has access to phone lines and the Internet. As of Monday, the park’s phone lines were being re-routed to the Lincoln Museum where staff could answer questions. The park’s Web site with a schedule of Feb. 12 events will be updated later this week.

Brue appeared tired as she worked from her makeshift office in the courthouse. Many months of planning for the national kickoff for the Lincoln Bicentennial were ruined by last year’s ice storm. Ice has again interrupted plans for the celebration of Lincoln’s birth.

Despite the disappointment, Brue is able to appreciate how much better life is in 2009 than in 1809, when Nancy Lincoln gave birth to a baby boy in a tiny log cabin.

“This storm puts things in perspective for me,” she said. “Imagine 200 years ago if an ice storm hit that cabin – hearing the trees crash around you. There was no heat, no hot water – but you had babies in diapers. You had to make do.”