Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy

Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy during a press conference in 2010. (Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune)

It may not be prime election season, but the Orland Park Civic Center will be full of campaign gear when the Chicagoland American Political Items Collectors' Show comes to town Sunday.

The event gives enthusiasts a chance to share their collections, typically featuring campaign buttons, posters and any other political memorabilia, said Randy Kopp, the group's president.

The Chicago branch of the nationwide American Political Items Collectors group has been around for more than 30 years and typically hosts three shows a year, but it's the first time they've been to Orland Park, Kopp said. They picked the location for its connection to the politician they chose to focus on at this year's event, Ronald Reagan, he said.

Orland Park police Chief Tim McCarthy, a former Secret Service agent, took a bullet meant for then-President Reagan during John Hinckley Jr.'s assassination attempt in 1981.

McCarthy is planning to attend the event and may autograph memorabilia, Kopp said.

"We are very excited to bring this show to Orland Park. This is a great opportunity for anyone who enjoys political history to see some amazing collections," Mayor Dan McLaughlin said in a statement from the village.

The show runs from noon to 3 p.m. at the Civic Center at 14750 S. Ravinia Ave., and admission is free. Though some collectors will sell or swap items, others just want to share their pieces with fellow enthusiasts, Kopp said.

"The real fun is knowing the history behind the items," said Kopp, who plans to bring a set of buttons given to delegates at national conventions during the Reagan years.

One of his other favorite items is a button from Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, with a photo of Chelsea Clinton and the words "Vote for my daddy!"

According to Kopp, the buttons were pulled when Hillary Clinton objected to using Chelsea Clinton in campaign materials. Some, however, had already been given out, one to Kopp's friend, who sold him the button for $10, he said. It's now considered rare and worth about $400, Kopp said.

Though the group's shows tend to attract history buffs — particularly lawyers, professors and high school history teachers — novices are welcome, and collectors are happy to talk about the stories behind their items, Kopp said.

"We're just trying to encourage people in this hobby," he said.


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