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Reagan visit a great show

What we thought: 30 years ago

Published: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 11:56 a.m. CDT
(Sauk Valley Media file photo)
Dixon High School was packed with well-wishers on Feb. 6, 1984, when President Ronald Reagan returned with his wife, Nancy, to celebrate his 73rd birthday. Also on hand was Neil Reagan, the president’s brother, Gov. Jim Thompson, U.S. Sen. Charles Percy, U.S. Rep. Lynn Martin, and Dixon Mayor James Dixon.
(Sauk Valley Media file photo)
Unidentified volunteers work on the restored fireplace at the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home several days before Reagan visited it on Feb. 6. 1984.
(Sauk Valley Media file photo)
Unidentified children get a close-up look at a large cake made in honor of President Ronald Reagan's 73rd birthday. Reagan visited Dixon 30 years ago today.

Note to readers – Today marks the 30th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s trip to Dixon to celebrate his 73rd birthday. As the Reagan Boyhood Home board and staff will celebrate the occasion with an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. today, we revisit the big event by reprinting a Telegraph editorial from Feb. 7, 1984. 

A great show

When President Ronald Reagan landed Monday morning at Walgreen Field, he no doubt felt the biting cold as he stepped out of the presidential helicopter.

But it was a chill of another kind he felt as he drove into Dixon – a  chill brought on by emotion, excitement.

Seeing thousands of cheering Dixonians, as he later called them, braving frigid temperatures to give him a hero’s welcome certainly brought goose bumps to the president. He was home among friends.

There is little doubt the chilling winds of Monday kept thousands of well-wishers home, but for the more than 10,000 who elected to brave the frigid climate for the homecoming parade, home dedication and birthday party, a welcome sight was in store. It was a party unlike any Dixon had seen before or probably will see again. It was an historic occasion.

President Reagan commented favorably about the renovation of his boyhood home at 816 S. Hennepin and addressed thousands of cheering supporters from his limousine during the parade. And the president was in rare form among friends at Lancaster gym, where he addressed supporters at his birthday party.

The constant smiles shown by the president were indicative of his feelings during the day. Anyone close to the president during the visit could see the genuine expressions of joy. President and Nancy Reagan came to celebrate a birthday and have a good time. The people of Dixon gave them what they wanted and more.

And, as the eyes of the world focused on Dixon for a day, residents could be proud – proud of its president, proud of its community spirit, proud of its heritage.

The scores of volunteers who made the president’s birthday homecoming possible should be commended, as should the White House staff and security officers who made the president’s stay a safe one.

Together, they put together a great show, one the president and community will long remember.

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