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Published On: Thu, Jul 4th, 2013

Statue of Liberty opens for July 4th, first time since Superstorm Sandy

The Statue of Liberty finally reopened on the Fourth of July months after Superstorm Sandy devastated the small island in New York Harbor as Americans across the country marked the holiday with fireworks and barbecues.

photo Peter J Bellis via Flickr

photo Peter J Bellis via Flickr

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.

A couple from North Carolina, Rodney and Judy Long, were reportedly first in line for the Lady Liberty boat. The Longs couldn’t get tickets to climb 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.

Some repairs to brick walkways and docks are ongoing 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.

“Hurricane Sandy inflicted major damage on facilities that support the Statue of Liberty – destroying the docks, crippling the energy infrastructure on Ellis Island and wiping out the security screening system – but we are fully committed to reopening this crown jewel as soon as it’s safe for visitors and not a second later,” Secretary Ken Salazar said earlier this year. “Based on the tremendous progress we have made, Lady Liberty will be open to the public in time for the July 4th celebration.”

A gift from France, the statue was conceived to symbolize the friendship between the two countries and their shared love of liberty. It was dedicated in 1886 and welcomes about 3.5 million visitors every year.

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