CHAMPAIGN – For the past decade or so, University of Illinois senior Mackenzie Martin has had fun with her family, traveling on weekends to parks to camp out and bring to life the Civil War.
On Friday afternoon, Martin, her four brothers and their parents from Downers Grove will join other Civil War re-enactors to do the same, this time on the street in front of the Virginia Theatre.
There, they and other members of the Missouri Guerrillas infantry unit will be dressed in period costumes, educating folks about an era that continues to fascinate.
The re-enactment, free and open to all, starts at 1 p.m. and is part of the annual Ice Cream and Independence festivities that fall on the day before the Fourth of July. This year the indoor concert starting at 7 p.m. will include a Lincoln tribute. The concert will be broadcast live by WDWS, with Jim Turpin as host.
"The whole idea with Ice Cream and Independence is that each year there's something different," said Peter Griffin, founder and conductor of the Concert Band of Central Illinois. "We always end with a celebration of the country."
The musical celebration also will look back, with some members of the Concert Band performing on eight Civil War-era over-the-shoulder horns that belong to the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at the UI, where Griffin is assistant directors of bands and director of the Marching Illini.
Union and Confederate musicians carried the horns as they led soldiers from place to place, in formation or into battle, with the bell facing backward, or toward the soldiers. Griffin said Union and Confederate musicians also would stand on hills at night when camped out, trading tunes.
"They're not as heavy as one would think," Griffin said. "Even the bass horn is very light and fairly well-balanced, which they had to be because musicians marched with them so much."
After the 90-minute concert, members of the audience will get to take a closer look at the horns, Griffin said. A few also will be outside, starting around 6:15, during the re-enactment festivities.
The re-enactors will bring period-style tents, swords and rifles, and one will play the role of a Cavalryman on horseback, according to Martin. Another re-enactor who built a rocket launcher according to Civil War-period designs will show off the weapon. He also will have on site a reproduction of a mountain howitzer and a full-size cannon.
Martin, a 21-year-old music education major who plays percussion in the band, helped plan the re-enactment activities.
"For us it's a family hobby," she said, adding that most of the re-enactments that her family attends are in northern Illinois.
The re-enactment on Friday will start at 1 p.m. and continue to about 6:40 p.m., with Cold Stone Creamery giving free ice cream to concert-ticket holders from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
The 47-member concert band will open the indoor concert with an 1853 arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner," the same one favored by Abraham Lincoln. They will play that on the over-the-shoulder instruments only.
"We want to play it exactly as he would have heard it," Griffin said.
The band will use modern instruments to perform the rest of the concert, which will include an arrangement of "America" that was performed at the White House when the Civil War began and when Lincoln announced its end, in 1865.
Also part of the program:
— The arrangement of "Doxology" that was performed by the Marine Band during the Gettysburg Address.
— An Armed Forces salute, with related images projected on a screen.
— A tribute to Lincoln, with WILL's Roger Cooper narrating Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait."
— Medleys of Blue and Gray, or Union and Confederate, music, and George Gershwin tunes.
— "The William Tell Overture" by Gioachino Rossini.
If you go
What: Ice Cream and Independence: A Live Radio Show Celebrating Abraham Lincoln, featuring Civil War re-enactment, music played on period horns and ice cream.
When: Friday, with re-enactment camp opening at 1 p.m. outside the Virginia Theatre, ice cream served free to ticket-holders from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and the indoor concert featuring the Concert Band of Central Illinois performing patriotic and other music, 7 p.m. The re-enactment is free.
Where: Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Ave., C
Tickets: Reserved seating, with tickets $16 for adults, $14 for students and senior citizens and $8 for children.
Information: 356-9053 and www.thevirginia.org