State Watch

Illinois celebrates first annual Barack Obama Day

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Illinoisans honored former President Obama on Saturday with the first annual “Barack Obama Day.”

The Illinois legislature last year unanimously passed a measure establishing Aug. 4, the former president’s birthday, as a state holiday.

Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed the bill into law on Aug. 6, 2017, making this year the first that the holiday is celebrated.

Obama began his political career as a community organizer in Chicago before becoming a state senator and then a U.S. senator from Illinois.

{mosads}An early version of the bill had pushed for the day to be a legal holiday with paid time off and closed government offices, but the final version made it a commemorative holiday.

“It’s incredibly proud for Illinois that the president came from Illinois. I think it’s awesome, and I think we should celebrate it,” Rauner said last year. “I don’t think it should be a formal holiday with paid, forced time off, but I think it should be a day of acknowledgment and celebration.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), Obama’s former chief of staff, wished Obama a happy birthday on Twitter, saying “57 never looked so good.”

A spokeswoman for the former president told USA Today that Obama will have dinner with his family in Washington, D.C., to celebrate his 57th birthday.

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