New York, NY – October 28, 1886, dawned shrouded in fog and rain, but the weather didn’t dampen the spirits of those who had come to celebrate the dedication of France’s gift of friendship to the people of the United States, an enormous statue of a woman entitled “Liberty Enlightening the World.” New York City welcomed her with its first ticker-tape parade, and a flotilla of nearly 300 vessels sailed to Bedloe’s Island (now Liberty Island) to greet her. The Statue of Liberty, as she quickly became known, was soon an international beacon of freedom; and she remains so today.
To commemorate the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, the National Park Service (NPS) is holding a special series of events on Oct. 28, 2011. The day honors the Statue’s history by evoking the original dedication festivities, but also confidently envisions the park’s future as a beacon of freedom in the high-tech global community.
“The Statue has evolved in meaning since she first graced our shores 125 years ago”, said David Luchsinger, Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. “She began as a symbol of friendship between France and the United States, evolved into a symbol of our great country, and is known today as an international symbol of freedom for people everywhere. This coming Friday is an opportunity to celebrate her complete legacy.”
Since the day of her dedication, the Statue of Liberty has greeted immigrants in search of a better life to America’s shores. In honor of her status as a symbol of enduring hope and welcome, 125 immigrants will become new U.S. Citizens on Liberty Island the morning of Oct. 28, before the park opens. The citizenship candidates come from more than 40 countries, including Albania, Senegal, China, Italy, Haiti, Honduras, Croatia and the Dominican Republic.
The main ceremony will take place from 10 a.m. to noon (program schedule below) and will feature remarks by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar who will present a gift of friendship to the government of France echoing the French people’s gift of the Statue in 1886. Noted singer and pianist Michael Feinstein, Academy-Award-nominated actress Sigourney Weaver, vocalist Capathia Jenkins, Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose, cabaret artist Gay Marshall and students from the Brooklyn High School of the Arts will lend their talents to the ceremony as well.
A small flotilla of government, commercial and private vessels will offer a salute to the Statue at the close of the ceremony, evoking the 1886 “water parade” that attended her dedication.
But the NPS is not merely celebrating Lady Liberty’s history on Oct. 28. It is also expanding her ability to inspire humanity by furthering her reach on the World Wide Web with the launch of the “torch cam,” which will look out over New York Harbor from the Statue’s vantage point.
"The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. is grateful to EarthCam for its generosity in contributing its cameras and equipment to bring never-before-seen views of Liberty Island and New York Harbor to the general public,” said Stephen A. Briganti, Foundation President and CEO. "The Foundation is delighted to be hosting these "bird's eye views" from Lady Liberty's torch, bringing The Lady LIVE to you, wherever you are, 24-7 on www.ellisisland.org and www.nps.gov/stli. It's a breathtaking view!"
The Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars will continue its 75-year tradition of celebrating Lady Liberty’s anniversary with a donation to Statue of Liberty National Monument at 1:30 p.m. “As one of the most powerful symbols of freedom in the world, the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW celebrates the anniversary and presents its gift in honor of those who have fought and died protecting our freedom,” said Cara Day, spokeswoman for the organization.
And since there is no better way to punctuate a monumental anniversary than with pyrotechnics, at approximately 7:45pm, Macy's Fireworks will light up the night sky as the grand finale to the 125th anniversary celebration of the Statue of Liberty. The fireworks will be ignited from two barges flanking the national monument. In addition, for the first time in 25-years, shells and effects will also take to the sky from Liberty Island, surrounding the Statue with brilliant color, light and sound. Macy's synchronized, 12-minute salute will be choreographed to a patriotic musical score featuring songs including “God Bless America” and “Stars & Stripes Forever.” The highlight of the fireworks will be the original song, "Gift of Light," written by Grammy-winning composer Doug Katsaros and Emmy-winning lyricist and Macy's creative director William Schermerhorn. The English and French rendition, sung by Anika Noni Rose and Gay Marshall, will celebrate the Statue as a gift of friendship from France to the United States. Local spectators are encouraged to tune-in to 1010 WINS radio to hear a live simulcast of the score as the fireworks ignite the sky.
125th Anniversary Celebration
8:45 am – 9:30 am Naturalization Ceremony
10 am – Noon National Park Service Ceremony
Presentation of the Colors
Pledge of Allegiance
French national anthem
“C'est Magnifique” and “God Bless America” performed by Michael Feinstein
Reading of Emma Lazarus’ poem “The New Colossus” by Sigourney Weaver
“Huddled Masses” performed by Brooklyn School of the Arts
Presentation of Gifts of Friendship by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to French representative
Lighting of “torch cam”
“Gift of Light” performed by Gay Marshall and Anika Noni Rose (sung in French and English)
Order of schedule subject to change
1:30 pm Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
7:45 pm Macy’s Fireworks grand finale
National Park Service: Jane Ahern, 917-299-3843 (mobile) or firstname.lastname@example.org or Mindi Rambo,
(646) 341-2825 (mobile) or email@example.com
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Katie Tichacek, (202) 420-9518 (cell) or
Macy’s Fireworks: Orlando Veras (646) 429-7450 or Orlando.Veras@macys.com
Ladies Auxiliary of Veterans of Foreign Wars: Cara Day (816) 561-8655 or firstname.lastname@example.org
~ NPS ~