New York: The 125th birth anniversary of the iconic Statue of Liberty was celebrated in New York with events including a gun salute, fireworks and naturalisation ceremony for 125 immigrants organised to commemorate the day.
Noted singer and pianist Michael Feinstein, Academy-Award-nominated actress Sigourney Weaver and vocalist Capathia Jenkins were among the celebrities who joined New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for the ceremony held on Friday.
The theme for the 125th anniversary events is 'Honour History, Envision the Future.' Through the various ceremonies, the National Park Service intended to re-create the actual programme of the day the statue was gifted to the US by France.
"She remains an inspiration for people all around the world," Bloomberg said.
A small flotilla of government, commercial and private vessels offered a salute to the Statue at the close of the ceremony, evoking the 1886 "water parade" that attended her dedication. Honouring her status as a symbol of enduring hope and welcome to the millions of immigrants who have entered the US, 125 immigrants took the oath of allegiance on Liberty Island becoming new US citizens.
The iconic green lady, a gift from France to the United States, was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and designated as a National Monument in 1924. More than 1,000 people from both the countries were present on the occasion on Liberty Island in New York Harbour.
A series of new web cameras have also been placed around the torch of the Statue of Liberty, providing on computers and smart phones live and unobstructed views of the New York City skyline, the Hudson River, ships in New York Harbour as well as a wide-angle interactive view of the famed golden torch.
"Lady Liberty is an enduring symbol of freedom, tolerance and openness that represents our country's highest ideals," Salazar said.
During the ceremony, American and French national anthems were played, followed by Weaver reading "The New Colossus," a poem by Emma Lazarus inscribed under the statue in bronze.
The iconic New York symbol will close for a year beginning today, during when a $27.25 million renovation will be undertaken to improve the stairway up into Lady Liberty's crown and to add new safety equipments.
However, Liberty Island, where the copper statue is located, will remain open during the project and views of Lady Liberty will remain largely unobstructed during the year-long upgrade.