Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Lincoln Penny Release Sweatravaganza

I'd only been back at home a few days when the US Mint held the Illinois 2009 Lincoln Cent Event in downtown Springfield on Thursday, August 13th. The third in a set of four 1 cent coins commemorating the life of Abraham Lincoln was going to be released. My continuing interest in coins mixed with my desire to reconnect with American culture meant that I would be there. I didn't just drive there, though, I took the bus.

This was my first encounter with a Springfield city bus since high school. It was also a very nice time to wield the power of my newly purchased iPhone. I just walked out to the bus stop in front of my house, and while I waited, I did some nosing around on the Springfield Mass Transit District website. Several web pages and a phone call later, I was directed to a different stop a several minutes walk away; the stop in front of my house only operates at certain times. Who knew? A constructive criticism I have for our system is the the bus stop is simply a sign that reads "bus stop". There's no map, time table, or even a route number. "Wait here. Either a bus will come, or you will die of exposure." Once I was on a bus, everything was great. I sat near the driver and we talked economy. I was the only passenger.

Maybe some of the routes aren't quite as peaceful as mine.

When I arrived at the Old State Capitol building, there were a ton of people present. A line snaked all the way out the tall black fence and around the perimeter. After waiting in line with everyone else for a couple of minutes I gave up and just walked through the gate.

It turned out that the massive line was waiting for rolls of the new pennies to be released to the public. The chairs set up to watch the ceremony weren't even half full, so I picked a seat in the middle and enjoyed the show.

The Lincoln Troubadours sang several songs that seemed to be from Lincoln's time period. They were civil war themed at times.

The Illinois Troubadours sing "Illinois", our state song. I'd never heard this in my life.

Zombie Lincoln

More zombies from the Civil War

There were actually some pretty big deal officials here. From left to right stood Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin, national anthem singer lady, United States Mint Director Edmund Moy, United States Senator Dick Durbin, guy from the local news and guy at the podium.

The speeches were pretty predictable. Apparently the version of the coin that was originally slated to represent Lincoln's "professional life in Illinois" did not feature the Old State Capitol, so an architect that had something to do with the building and our friendly senator from Illinois steered the bureaucratic machine in a different direction. It was a heart wrenching story.

The front of the coin is the usual Lincoln head, and the back features Springfield. Eat it, Shelbyville!

After the speeches Senator Durbin passed out free pennies, but only to people under 18. Wasteful government spending. Those kids can't even vote!

Once the penny had been officially released, the big armored car sitting nearby was unloaded and rolls of pennies were sold to the public. The line was so massive that I decided it wasn't worth the effort. Lunch, though, was definitely worth the effort.

Some gnarly fungus thing growing on a tree.

I had lunch at the nearby Coney Island. I got two Coney Dogs, onion rings, and a drink for 6.50. A Coney Dog is a hot dog, Coney sauce(?), diced onions, and mustard. It was awesome.

Here's the menu in case you'd like to order something or you live outside the US and you want to see how cheap and delicious freedom is.

Caution, the following video has nothing to do with anything.

1 comment:

  1. So I watched your video for the Illinois state song... and I wondered if Pennsylvania had one, too. Apparently they do. Now I know.

    Anyhoo.. I met your replacement! He works for the same company I do. His name is John, too. Apparently the kids at school were all "uso!!" anyway. Hope all is well. Way to have amazing adventures !!