socastcmsRssStartBy Cole Lauterbach | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Political leaders, performers and others gathered in Chicago on Monday to celebrate Illinois’ 200th anniversary of its induction into statehood.
Gov. Bruce Rauner never shared the stage with Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, but each refrained from critical comments and were gracious of one another.
“I’d like to acknowledge and thank our new governor-elect Pritzker and first lady M.K.,” Rauner said. “Tonight we come together as one people, as one state.”
Pritzker also shared some niceties about Rauner after the two spending months attacking each other in the most expensive statewide election battle in U.S. history.
“On this occasion, I want to express all of our deep gratitude to Gov. Bruce Rauner,” Pritzker said. “We should all celebrate the progress that we’ve made, but I want to say how important it is for us to look forward in this state. Our best days are yet to come in Illinois.”
Rauner cut into a 1,000 pound Eli’s Cheesecake shaped like the Capitol building in Springfield, joking about how he’ll enjoy it after losing weight during his time as governor.
The event was initially set to be held at the 23,500-seat United Center, but was moved to the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, a venue that holds 1,400, after disappointing ticket sales.
Television and radio announcer Bill Kurtis introduced “Born, Built and Grown in Illinois,” a short film about the Prairie State’s contributions to society over the last two centuries.
East St. Louis native Jackie Joyner-Kersee helped showcase championship trophies not just from the Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox, but also soccer’s Chicago Fire, the Rockford Peaches from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that won multiple league championships in the years after World War II and medals from Illinois Olympians.
A rap version of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” was performed by Miguel Cervantes of the Chicago version of "Hamilton."
The show ended with a group performance of "Sweet Home Chicago" from Illinois performers Kevin Cronin, singer of Champaign-formed REO Speedwagon, Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy and others that performed.
The event was described as low-key in comparison to other states’ that had recently celebrated bicentennials. This, officials said, was largely due to the budget impasse and the state’s financial situation. All the bicentennial events were privately funded. Tickets sold for $50 to $75.
In 2016, neighboring Indiana celebrated its bicentennial with a “torch relay” that spanned 3,200 miles with nearly 2,000 torchbearers from each of Indiana’s 92 counties before a finale event at their state fairgrounds. Indiana spent $55 million.