Abe Lincoln’ the star in visitor’s bureau video
Seven score and 10 years ago, Abe Lincoln proclaimed West Virginia its own state - the only one born of the Civil War.
So it's fitting that Lincoln is the star of the latest Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau video.
He is seen eating an ice cream cone outside Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream on Capitol Street, walking through an art gallery at the Clay Center and hugging West Virginia Power mascot Chuck at a Power game.
"We're coming up on the 150th anniversary of West Virginia's birthday," said Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the bureau.
"Abe Lincoln is a recognizable and compelling personality. He's on the American conscience right now after Steven Spielberg's movie just last year. And with the sesquicentennial coming up - he's the one who signed the papers for our state. It's West Virginia's day to shine."
Bailey said no longer do still photographs of re-enactors grab people's attention - especially young people. She said the video is more engaging and appealing to people of all ages.
"One of the things we know from visitors studies is that with today's travelers - especially if they're a younger generation - we need to make history come alive and be interesting," she said. "And we have a lot of history in Charleston."
The video, which showcases places to dine, play and attend events, aims to encourage people to get excited about the sesquicentennial celebration and join the festivities. The bureau received a $5,000 grant from the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission to pay for the project, Bailey said.
"We want to show 'Hey! We're having this great celebration the weekend of June 20,'" she said.
"With FestivALL, artisans from Vandalia, a 3D motion picture, fireworks, and a 5K run - this is just a great weekend to get people to come to Charleston to stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants. We thought - wouldn't it be fun if Lincoln came now? What would he do?"
In the video, Lincoln portrayer Larry Elliot of Hodgenville, Ky., rides a bike in front of the Capitol and admires the statue called Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight.
Elliot chats and poses for photographs with passersby and speaks with Charleston Daily Mail reporters Paul Fallon and Zack Harold. Charleston Mayor Danny Jones takes Lincoln for a spin in his vintage Pontiac convertible, and Lincoln dines at a local restaurant.
Elliot began portraying Lincoln in 2003, and he has personal ties to the 16th president: His great, great, great, great grandmother was the midwife who delivered Lincoln.
"I sometimes say she was the first person to see his hiney butt!" Elliot joked. "But I don't say that at schools."
Elliot primarily works with schools, but his adventures in Charleston took him from one end of the city to the other.
"I was there for two days, and we had to stop constantly for picture taking," he said. "With iPhones, it's so easy to take pictures now, and everyone was just so interested ... It was a great experience."
Bailey said they tried to show off what Charleston has to offer.
"We can't feature everybody, but we're trying to show we have great places to dine, fun places to visit, and then they can visit the website to see everything that's going on this weekend," Bailey said. "Hopefully this will pique interest and get people coming to Charleston."
While events will be happening all over the state in celebration of the state's 150th birthday, Charleston will start with a statewide bell ringing on June 20. Performances, a parade, live music and more will continue throughout the weekend. For more information on the sesquicentennial, visit http://www.birthday.wv.gov/Pages/happybirthday.aspx.
To view the video, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlcKCHluwyo&feature=youtu.be.
For more information on the Charleston Convention & Visitors Video, visit http://charlestonwv.com/default.aspx.