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Library Celebrates Reagan’s Birthday

February 7, 2000

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) _ About 700 people gathered on a sun-drenched Sunday afternoon to celebrate Ronald Reagan’s 89th birthday with a vintage car show, barbecue lunch and country music.

The celebration was held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, which charged $15 for the lunch and offered free birthday cake to all museum visitors.

``When I listened to him, it was like I was listening to my father. And that’s probably the biggest compliment I can give someone,″ said Santa Barbara resident Jan Tornquist. ``He was so down to earth.″

Reagan, who last visited the library in May, was too ill to join the celebration.

Nancy Reagan said Friday on CNN’s ``Larry King Live″ show that her husband _ diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994 _ was ``doing as well as can be expected″ considering the disease is progressive.

None of Reagan’s relatives attended the event, but Nancy Reagan’s bright red 1970 Ford Custom Ranch Wagon was on display.

The vintage car show was held to promote a commemorative California license plate that features a photo of a smiling Reagan wearing a cowboy hat. The Department of Motor Vehicles must receive 5,000 applications by Dec. 31 for the Reagan plate before it will be issued. About 2,000 orders have been placed, said library spokeswoman Teri Saucier.

The library described the autos in the context of Reagan’s life, including a Ford Roadster Deluxe with a rumble seat from 1932, the year he graduated from college; a Chevrolet pickup truck from 1937, the year he worked on his first movie ``Love is on the Air″; and a Rolls Royce silver Wraith Coupe from 1952, the year he and Nancy married.

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