LANSING | Though its actual anniversary is today, residents and officials threw a birthday party for the village Sunday, marking its 120th year of incorporation.
Lansing residents celebrated their village's history at the American Legion hall, 18255 Grant St., to mark the anniversary of the day in 1893 when voters supported incorporation by a margin of 67-10.
Carrie Steinweg, of the Lansing Historical Society, portrayed a fictional Lansing resident who spent her days caring for her family, and was mystified at the present day sight of Lansing without railroad tracks, nearby farm fields or horse-drawn wagons.
She said many of the bricks used to rebuild structures in Chicago following the fire of 1871 were made in Lansing.
Trustee Mikal Stole portrayed J.B. McDonald, who two months after incorporation won the election to be Lansing's first village president.
Stole, in character as McDonald, told of the village board's first action — an ordinance creating saloon licenses at $500 annually. Eight such licenses were awarded.
"We had a thirsty village," he said.
Other early actions by Lansing government included creation of peddler's licenses, at $40 per day or $15 per year, depending on how desirable village officials found their products to be, and that of dog licenses at $1 per animal if they were male. Owners of female dogs were charged $2 for the license.
Stole also told of how Lansing residents of the past were allowed to kill stray dogs — a fact that drew gasps of shock from the modern-day spectators.
Village President Norm Abbott said the significance of remembering early founders of Lansing was in studying the way they had a vision for the future that created the current village.
"We should be proud of our past, but we should also work to create a better future for our community," Abbott said.
Sunday's event also was the kickoff of a yearlong collection effort of objects about life in modern-day Lansing — all of which will be put in a capsule that will be buried one year from Monday in Park Plaza, Ridge Road and Grant Street. The capsule will be opened on Lansing's 150th anniversary, March 4, 2043.
Lan-Oak Park District President Mike Gaffney said the group wants photographs, sports memorabilia and other objects that would tell stories about Lansing in 2013.
Village Clerk Patricia Eidam, who also has ties to the historical society, said such objects are important to preserve. "Our society can't save what they don't have," she said.
Among the roughly 150 people at Sunday's event was Donald Sciackitano, a former village trustee who is running for village president in the April 9 election.
Although his campaign is challenging the Lansing establishment that organized Sunday's event, he said he was willing to put aside partisan politics for the day.
"Things like this is what it's really all about, not all the politics," he said.