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Tourists gather at Statue of Liberty for reopening

Thursday - 7/4/2013, 11:20am  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- A North Carolina man says the Fourth of July is "perfect timing" for the reopening of the Statue of Liberty. Rodney Long says, "It's really a symbol for what the country is all about."

He and his wife Judy were the first people in line for the boat this morning to Liberty Island, where there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony with federal officials and New York's mayor. The Longs couldn't get tickets to climb to the top of the statue, but said they were just glad to be there for the reopening.

The statue has been closed since Superstorm Sandy swamped its island in New York Harbor last October.

A Brooklyn couple brought their three kids to the island today -- figuring it would be a fitting way to celebrate today's sixth birthday of one of their daughters. Heather Leykam, whose mother's home was destroyed during the storm, says Liberty Island "is really about a rebirth." She calls it "a sense of renewal for the city and the country."

Some repairs to brick walkways and docks are continuing, but much of the work has been completed in the months since Sandy swamped most of the island's 12 acres. The statue itself didn't suffer any damage from the storm.

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APPHOTO NYR102: In this June 26, 2013 photo provided by the National Park Service, workers on Liberty Island install sod around the national monument which is set to re-open on the 4th of July, in New York. Months after railings broke, docks and paving stones were torn up and buildings were flooded by Superstorm Sandy, the Statue of Liberty will finally welcome visitors again. (AP Photo/National Park Service, (26 Jun 2013)

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