By Lindsay Toler
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Hold on to your stovepipe hat! This weekend (April 11-13), 80 Abraham Lincoln impersonators will descend on Alton for the annual convention of the Association of Lincoln Presenters. In addition to four score Lincolns, the event will feature Mary Todd Lincoln impersonators and, quite naturally, Segway tours of the city. Looking for more information on this extravaganza, Unreal rang up Principia College theater professor Patrick McCreary — an Honest Abe himself and one of the event organizers.
Unreal: How did you become a Lincoln re-enactor?
McCreary: I've been performing and touring as an actor since high school. Lincoln was a tall man. He used to say he was five-foot sixteen inches, and I'm the exact same height and weight. I have a beard like Lincoln and some of the same colorization and texture of his skin.
Lincoln was a great man, but he was not a physically beautiful man. Have you ever thought of impersonating a better-looking dead president?
Mary Todd Lincoln was no looker either. Do you screen people for these roles, or can anyone join?
I'm fortunate, because I happen to look like Lincoln. But what's most important is that individuals in our association be committed to preserving an accurate accounting of the thoughts and philosophies of Lincoln and his wife.
So what's on tap for the weekend?
Oh, lots! We're going to have a re-enactment of the last Lincoln-Douglas debate that was held in Alton. We're going to have a ball where people can dance with Lincoln for a small donation, and the public is free to take pictures, too. But as the joke goes: "Please, no headshots!"
What about the Segways?
Oh yes. The Alton visitors' bureau has been very innovative. Can you imagine the sight of Abraham Lincolns on Segways? Why, that's worth the trip to Alton right there!
You don't have to convince us!