Shawnee National Forest quarters were introduced to the public Thursday, Feb. 4, at a ceremonial event held in Southeastern Illinois College’s Deaton Gymnasium in Harrisburg, Illinois.
More than 1,300 packed into the gym for the official launch ceremony, including some 550 schoolchildren.
After the event, kids received a shiny new Shawnee quarter for free while many adults swapped cash for $10 rolls of the new coin. About $25,000 in quarters were exchanged by Banterra bank, according to U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White.
Guest speakers included U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell; Shawnee National Forest Supervisor Allen Nicholas; Deb Detmers, district director for U.S. Representative John Shimkus; Matt Rice, district director for U.S. Representative Mike Bost; Ben Barnes, Second Chief of the Shawnee Tribe; George Blanchard, representative of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma; Todd Carr, president of the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau; and Dean Bidle, program manager for Numismatic Packaging Planning at the United States Mint.
"Not only is the Shawnee National Forest quarter the 31st coin in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program – and the first quarter to be introduced into circulation in 2016 – it also is the fifth and last national forest to be honored in the program," said Bidle. "Millions of Americans will now have a reminder of the beauty of Southern Illinois through a quarter designed in the national forest’s honor."
Cindy Cain, executive director of the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau, served as master of ceremonies.
Those who missed the launch ceremony don’t have to wait to find Shawnee quarters in change. The United States Mint started selling them on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Buying options include rolls and bags of circulating quality quarters produced at U.S. Mint facilities in San Francisco, Denver and Philadelphia. Prices for the U.S. Mint-branded products range from $18.95 for a roll of 40 quarters to $46.95 for a set of three-rolls.
On the evening before the ceremony, the U.S. Mint hosted a free coin forum with 70 enthusiasts attending. Coin forums offer a venue to express views and ask questions about existing, new and upcoming U.S. Mint products.
The U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters® Program debuted in 2010. It will honor 56 national parks and other national sites in the U.S. and its territories through 2021.