Illinois' 199th birthday kicks off bicentennial celebration

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By JOHN O'CONNOR
AP Political Writer

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois is kicking off a yearlong celebration leading to the state's bicentennial.

Sunday marks the Prairie State's 199th anniversary. Daylong events are scheduled at Navy Pier in Chicago and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield . They're the first of many events scheduled to celebrate Illinois' 200th birthday.

Illinois became the 21st state on Dec. 3, 1818.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says in a prepared statement that he hopes "we will use this lofty vantage point to look ahead" to "unparalleled opportunities for growth."

State Rep. Tim Butler is a Springfield Republican and member of the Bicentennial Commission. His ancestor Lewis Barker was Pope County's first state senator in 1818.

Butler says the bicentennial offers an opportunity for Illinoisans to "foster a renewed pride in our state."

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