Reagan centennial celebrations in Calif.

Feb. 6, 2011 at 3:25 PM
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SIMI VALLEY, Calif., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Hundreds assembled in Simi Valley, Calif., Sunday to attend the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan, observers say.

Reagan, who was sworn in as the 40th -- and oldest -- president in U.S. history, considered the Southern California community his hometown, ABC News reported Sunday.

Visitors to the Ronald Reagan Museum in Simi Valley will be offered a 6-foot by 6-foot birthday cake topped with 20,000 jelly beans, Reagan's favorite candy.

Other observances will be held in Dixon, Ill., near the former president's actual birthplace of Tampico, and in Arlington, Texas, where a 2-minute film tribute will be presented on giant screens during the Super Bowl.

Organizers behind the celebrations point out each one is not being funded with taxpayer money, but rather private sources such as General Electric are footing the bill.

"We thought it would be contrary to President Reagan's philosophy that government shouldn't be funding his birthday party," said spokesman Rob Bauer. "This is a first."

Reagan, who died in 2004 at age 93 a decade after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, is known for his promotion of supply-side economic policies, which became known as "Reaganomics." He deregulated the nation, some say to the point of anarchy, busted unions, and in the process some say broke the back of the middle class and hence the country's tax base, and reprioritized federal spending. Loved by Americans for his style, many skeptics say the former Hollywood actor's disciples exaggerate his legacy, the newspaper said.

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