NEW YORK (TIP): The United States celebrated the 237th anniversary of independence from British rule. Americans traditionally celebrate the Independence Day holiday with parades, picnics, fireworks, sports and concerts. Fourth of July decorations feature the colors of the American flag – red, white, and blue. In New York, the Statue of Liberty re-opened for the first time since Hurricane Sandy struck in October, 2012. The 93-meter statue was not damaged in the storm, but the island it sits on was devastated. The statue was open for a single day last year — Oct. 28, the day before Sandy struck. It had been closed the previous year for security upgrades.
Neighboring Ellis Island remains closed and there has been no reopening date set. The island was decorated with starspangled bunting, but portions remain blocked off with large construction equipment, and the main ferry dock was boarded up. Repairs to brick walkways and docks were ongoing. But much of the work has been completed since Sandy swamped the 12-acre island in New York Harbor, and visitors were impressed. The statue itself was unharmed, but the land took a 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. “It is one of the most enduring icons of America, and we pulled it off — it’s open today,” National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said. “Welcome.” Elsewhere in New York, throngs of revelers packed Brooklyn’s Coney Island to see competitive eating champ Joey Chestnut scarf down 69 hot dogs to break a world record and win the title for a seventh year at the 98th annual Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. Sonya Thomas defended her title with nearly 37 dogs. Macy’s Fireworks lit up New York skies. It was a riot of colors watched by hundreds of thousands of visitors and by millions on their TV screens.
In his weekly radio address from Washington, Obama urged Americans to work to secure liberty and opportunity for their own children and future generations. The first family was to host U.S. servicemen and women at the White House for a cookout. Nationwide, Boston hosted its first large gathering since the marathon bombing that killed three and injured hundreds, and Philadelphia,Washington and New Orleans hosted large holiday concerts. A Civil War reenactment commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg drew as many as 40,000 people to Pennsylvania. In Arizona, sober tributes were planned for 19 firefighters who died this week battling a blaze near Yarnell. Atlanta and Alaska planned holiday runs — thousands were racing up a 3,022-foot peak in Seward. In New Orleans, the Essence Festival celebrating black culture and music kicked off along the riverfront.