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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Naperville’s Pulse in Springfield – Welcome to Naperville, Laughing Lincoln


Holiday season is about making dreams come true. Yes, that mostly applies to children who find a special wished-for item under the tree on Christmas morning, but this December my family and I were able to see one of my dad’s come true in Naperville’s Central Park.

In celebration of Illinois’ Bicentennial birthday, a new statue will be dedicated this month on the Century Walk. It depicts one of Illinois’ most familiar sons, Abraham Lincoln, but in a way that is a bit less familiar. It shows a young Abe slapping his knee while telling one of his best stories. I am proud to say that the Laughing Lincoln statue was proposed by my dad; and I am grateful that his vision was carried out perfectly by the Century Walk Naperville Public Arts program.

There is a specific reason why young Lincoln is a very appropriate addition to our Century Walk. Young Lincoln helped Naperville founder Joe Naper achieve his dream of having what is now DuPage County carved out and liberated from Cook County. In return, Joe Naper lent Lincoln crucial support he needed to achieve his dream of moving the State Capitol to Springfield. With the divisiveness that seems all around us today, I hope that the statue will serve as a reminder that it is easier to achieve our dreams when we work together.

To me, Laughing Lincoln is also a reminder that you can get farther when your good intentions are combined with good humor. Abe Lincoln loved a good story and a good joke, as did my dad. Lincoln understood that you can disagree without being disagreeable. And, in fact, you have a better chance of bringing someone around to your point of view by laughing with them than by arguing with them. 

So, welcome to Naperville, Abe!

And to families throughout the Naperville area, this Holiday season my family wishes you and yours much love and laughter.

Editor’s Note / The Laughing Lincoln sculpture, the 50th work of public art in the Century Walk collection, will be dedicated at 2PM Sun., Dec. 2, in Central Park, rain or shine. The public is welcome to attend.

Note also that the large “coin” pictured above with Brand Bobosky and Mary Lou Wehrli, depicting a Lincoln head penny, was created by the good folks at Blooming Color.

UPDATE Dec. 3, 2018 / GALLERY OF PHOTOS FROM THE DEDICATION. Happy Illinois Bicentennial Day!

Grant Wehrli
Grant Wehrli
Grant Wehrli is a lifelong Naperville Resident and former Representative in the Illinois House of Representatives and Naperville City Councilman.