The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 5, 2013

From solemn to spectacular, July 4th celebrated

(Continued)

"I think there's no better place to be," said Arredondo, wearing his cowboy hat and a "Boston Strong" shirt in the marathon's colors of blue and yellow.

Speaking at the reopening of Lady Liberty, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell choked up as she told the crowd she was wearing a purple ribbon in memory of the fallen firefighters.

"Nineteen firefighters lost their lives in the line of duty, and we as a nation stand together," she said through tears.

Liberty Island was decorated with star-spangled 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.

The statue itself was unharmed during the storm, 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."

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.

Nationwide, Philadelphia, Washington and New Orleans hosted large holiday concerts. A Civil War re-enactment commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg drew as many as 40,000 people to Pennsylvania.

Also 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.

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