NEW YORK - The Statue of Liberty, closed since the destruction wrought by Superstorm Sandy, will reopen to the public this Fourth of July as Americans across the country mark the holiday with fireworks and barbecues.
The National Park Service was expecting a large crowd for the holiday and ribbon-cutting ceremony at Liberty Island with federal officials and New York's mayor. Some repairs to brick walkways and docks are still underway, but much of the work has been completed since Sandy swamped most of the national landmark's 12-acre site.
The statue was spared in the fall storm, but Lady Liberty's little 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.
Visitors to Lady Liberty will go through security on lower Manhattan, after city officials criticized an earlier plan to screen them at neighboring Ellis Island, which endured far worse damage to its infrastructure and won't be open to the public anytime soon. The damage to both islands was put at $59 million.
New Yorkers will also be treated to the annual fireworks display over the Hudson River with performances by Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift, and the Nathan's Original hot dog eating contest on Brooklyn's Coney Island.