Lincoln loved it.
The celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday – a Buffalo tradition well over a century old – went off Saturday afternoon in the Buffalo History Museum.
An enthusiastic crowd – which overflowed the museum’s central court during a reading of the Gettysburg Address and music by a fife and drum band – enjoyed the display.
“Lincoln was such a great man,” said Barbara McKee of East Amherst, “and they did such a nice tribute to him.”
But Lincoln himself – also known as David Kreutz of Depew – might have enjoyed the day’s events the most.
“He stands for freedoms, and the chance to get ahead in the world,” said the 72-year-old Lincoln presenter, who was wearing an antique frock coat and tall hat for the occasion.
“He’s a seedling for freedom.”
The Buffalo commemoration is the oldest annual ceremony marking Lincoln’s birthday in the nation, according to the history museum.
It has been 205 years since Lincoln’s birth, on Feb. 12, 1809.
Kreutz, posing for pictures with admirers in the museum’s gift shop, said that Lincoln’s appeal is timeless. Still, this time of year, he said, he’s extra busy. “February’s always a good time,” said Kreutz, who is retired from a career with GM and has been portraying Lincoln since 1996.
Kreutz was accompanied by Pat Petrie, a West Falls resident who was portraying Mary Todd Lincoln at the event. “There are actually eight layers of clothing,” said Petrie, showing off her black paletote coat, full-skirted dress and bonnet.
So how does it feel to be Mary Todd, if only for the day? “Sitting is very easy,” said Petrie. “I can’t drive a car in it.”
The Lincoln birthday celebration is particularly fitting, the historical presenters and re-enactors said, given that Lincoln came to Buffalo during his lifetime.
“Lincoln visited Buffalo,” said Kreutz, who at 6 feet tall is about 4 inches shy of the 16th president.
Shaina Montalvo, a Buffalo resident attending the event, said that Lincoln is worth commemorating because “he was part of something bigger.”
“He was just the beginning of a great America,” said Montalvo.
And Kreutz, as Lincoln, said he loves delivering the speech he got to recite on Saturday.
“It’s probably one of the best-known pieces of literature,” he said, of the Gettysburg Address.