Illinois Bicentennial Celebration on December 3, 2018 at the United Center


Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Stuart Layne

Illinois Bicentennial Celebration on December 3, 2018 at the United Center

Officials announce initial plans for Illinois’ 200th Birthday Event

 CHICAGO (June 26, 2018) —Illinois Bicentennial Officials and Commissioners announced today the preliminary details of Illinois’ 200th birthday celebration to be held at the United Center on December 3, 2018. The event will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Illinois’ recognition as the 21st state of the Union.

Illinois celebrities and contributors in all walks of life, including entertainment, sports, politics and more will be invited to participate.  Initial talent confirmed to participate include members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Styx, Blues legend Buddy Guy, the Chicago Bears, Olympic Champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Bill Kurtis and Joe Mantegna.

Legendary Illinois journalist Bill Kurtis opened the announcement via video.  “I am honored to have been asked to emcee the state of Illinois’ 200th Birthday Party,” Kurtis commented.  “We will be delighted to welcome an incredible roster of Illinois talent to the stage of the United Center.”

“It’s an honor for the United Center to play a role in the celebration of our state’s 200th birthday. As everyone knows, we have hosted some significant historical events at the United Center and we’re just as proud to be selected as the host for the December 3rd celebration,” said Rocky Wirtz, Chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks and Joint Owner of the United Center.

Deputy Governor Leslie Munger said the theme of the year-long Bicentennial Celebration will be on display during the United Center gala, “We will showcase the people, places and things that have been Born, Built and Grown in Illinois over the last 200 years that have made us Illinois Proud.”

A special Veterans commemoration, hosted by Illinois’ Joe Mantegna, will recognize the sacrifice Illinoisans have made over 200 years.  There will be recognition of the Bicentennial’s HONOR 200, Veterans chosen across the state for going above and beyond service to their fellow Veterans, with a performance by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

“It is an honor for the members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to be recognized for their contribution to arts and culture in Illinois by being asked to take part in the festivities for the State’s Bicentennial, commented Vanessa Moss Vice President of Orchestra and Building Operations.  “The Members of the CSO are particularly proud to celebrate our Illinois military veterans through music.”

The evening’s programming will mix historical video and live entertainment, including musical performances by an array of Illinois artists of different genres, including performances by Styx and other to be announced musical guests.

Additionally, the event will reflect on great events in Illinois sports, including a look back at the birth of the NFL, which had its roots at the University of Illinois with Papa Bear George Halas and Red Grange, as well as a presentation entitled ‘Chicago – The City of Champions’, a salute to all of the professional championship teams featuring players, trophies and special guests.

“The United Center is the home of two championship teams and many iconic moments in the state’s history. It is a wonderful honor to welcome the 200th anniversary celebration for the great state of Illinois,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, Chairman of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox, as well as Joint Owner of the United Center. “We look forward to welcoming notable celebrities, honorees and special guests under one roof to reflect on the stories that shaped the legacy of the state of Illinois.”

Other segments are being developed and invitations to many celebrities are being extended ensuring this will be a night to remember for the next 200 years.

The evening finale will chronicle the story of how Jazz and Blues migrated from Louisiana through East St. Louis and to Chicago.  A tribute to Chicago Blues will feature a performance by Buddy Guy and his band.  At 81 years old, Guy continues to be the King of Chicago Blues and has just released his 18th studio album, “The Blues is Alive and Well”.

On hand for today’s announcement were friends of the Bicentennial Commission who are assisting in the talent outreach and production.  They include: Welz Kauffman- CEO of Ravinia, Jerry Mickelson- Co-owner of Jam Productions, Steve Johnston, President of The Second City and Kerry Sheehan, Chief People Officer of the Second City and Joe Myhra – Vice President of Business Affairs, United Center.

“We are extremely grateful to have some of Illinois’ entertainment titans helping us with the plans for the Bicentennial Birthday Party,” said Stuart Layne the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of the Bicentennial.  “Everyone at the United Center has been so helpful and our thanks go out to Jerry Reinsdorf and Rocky Wirtz.”

A limited number of tickets will go on sale to the general public on Friday, July 6 at 10 a.m.

All Bicentennial events and programs are privately funded.  Lead sponsors for the Birthday Party include Wintrust Bank and Bicentennial Veteran’s program sponsors Boeing, Walgreens and ComEd.

ABOUT ILLINOIS BICENTENNIAL: On Dec. 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the union. The Illinois Bicentennial is a yearlong celebration of what has been BORN, BUILT & GROWN in the state and a reminder of why we are #IllinoisProud. Citizens are encouraged to participate in the celebration by visiting and using the hashtag #IllinoisProud. Partners and event and project managers planning activities between Dec. 3, 2017, and Dec. 3, 2018, can apply for endorsement to become an official part of Illinois Bicentennial by visiting the PARTICIPATE page at


A statewide multimedia campaign will celebrate Illinois' influence on the world through music, sports, agriculture, literature, commerce, history, technology and innovation, transportation, and art and architecture.

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