New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Thursday presided at the ceremony to reopen the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the entrance to the land of opportunities that was affected by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012.
The ceremony coinciding with Independence Day was the second reopening in less than a year, given that the storm ravaged both Liberty and Ellis Islands, and came just one day after the crown of the monument was opened to the public after a $30 million restoration.
The island had reopened to the public - after being closed for a year for security upgrades - on Oct. 28, 2012, the day before Sandy struck.
Thus, there was a pronounced sense of deja vu at the reopening.
Bloomberg joked that he hoped this would be the last opening they have to do, recalling the importance of the statue as an image of welcome for the 12 million immigrants who, between 1892 and 1954, entered the United States through Ellis Island.
The mayor also referred to the efforts made to reopen the monument and told a bit of his own life story at the event, remarking how impressed he had been the first time he saw the statue as a child on a trip with his parents from Boston.
Although Sandy did not affect the statue itself, water covered 70 percent of Liberty Island, damaging the facilities that over the past few months were restored and strengthened to prevent another storm from causing so much damage.
After a $77 million investment, the Statue of Liberty - which stands 93 meters (305 feet) high, including its base - is now fully accessible to the public and July 4th will be celebrated there with fireworks.
Besides Bloomberg, also attending the reopening ceremony were U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewel, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), National Park Service Jonathan Jarvis and officials in charge of taking care of the monument, along with many other well-known figures. EFE