Statue Of Liberty Officially Reopens For July 4th

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NEW YORK (AP)
— The Statue of Liberty finally reopened on the Fourth of July months
after Superstorm Sandy swamped its little island in New York Harbor as
Americans across the country marked the holiday with fireworks and
barbecues.

A large crowd gathered for the
holiday and ribbon-cutting ceremony at Liberty Island with federal
officials and New York's mayor. Lines stretched blocks long for the
boat, which left from Battery Park in Manhattan starting at 8:30 a.m.
Thursday.

Rodney and Judy Long, of Charlotte,
N.C., were the first people in line for the boat called Lady Liberty.
They couldn't get tickets to climb up to the top of the statue, but they
were just glad to be there for the big reopening, they said.

“It's perfect timing for it to reopen. It's really a symbol for what the country is all about,” Rodney Long said.

Heather
and Chris Leykam traveled to the statue from Brooklyn with their three
kids: Avril, 7, Delilah, whose 6th birthday is Thursday, and Finn, 1.
The family thought it would be great to celebrate Delilah's birthday at
the Statue of Liberty.

“This to us, Liberty
Island, is really about a rebirth,” said Heather Leykam, whose mother's
home in Breezy Point was destroyed during Sandy. “It is a sense of
renewal for the city and the country.”

Some
repairs to brick walkways and docks are still underway, but much of work
has been completed since Sandy swamped most of the 12 acres of the
national landmark.

The statue was spared in
the fall storm, but Lady Liberty's island took a serious beating.
Railings broke, docks and paving stones were torn up and buildings were
flooded. The storm destroyed electrical systems, sewage pumps and
boilers. Hundreds of National Park Service workers from as far away as
California and Alaska spent weeks cleaning mud and debris.

Visitors
to Lady Liberty went through security on lower Manhattan after city
officials criticized an earlier plan to screen them at neighboring Ellis
Island, which endured far worse damage to its infrastructure and won't
be open to the public anytime soon. The damage to both islands was $59
million.

In Arizona, sober tributes were
planned for 19 firefighters who died this week battling a blaze near
Yarnell. Boston prepared to host its first large gathering since the
marathon bombing that killed three and injured hundreds, and
Philadelphia, Washington and New Orleans planned large holiday concerts.

In
Washington, thousands of Americans plan to gather on the National Mall
to watch a 17-minute fireworks display and listen to performances by
Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond and John Williams conducting music from the
movie “Lincoln.” New Orleans was hosting the Essence Music Festival
stringing stages along the French Quarter. And Philadelphia was hosting
what was billed as the “largest free concert in America,” with John
Mayer, Neo and Hunter Hayes, who was filling in last-minute for a sick
Demi Lovato.

Not everyone was welcoming the
masses – Hermosa Beach, Calif., was ramping up police patrols and making
room in jails for revelers who in recent years have made the city an
annual destination for celebrating independence with drunkenness and
raucous behavior.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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