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United States celebrates Independence Day

July 4, 2009 - UNITED STATES

Many cities and towns will cancel or trim their Independence Day fireworks spectaculars because of hard times, but New York won't be one of them. Department store Macy's plans to stage its Jul 4 pyrotechnics extravaganza as usual, but will move it from the East River to the Hudson River in the city to mark the 400th anniversary of English explorer Henry Hudson's voyage to New York. The reopening to visitors of the Statue of Liberty's crown is New York's other star turn on Jul 4.

The traditional Macy's display, one of the largest in the country, is televised nationwide and attracts millions of visitors. The company says six barges along the West Side will fire 40,000 shells in tune with patriotic songs. Henry Hudson sailed the river in 1609 in the Dutch-flagged Half Moon while trying to find a passage to Asia. The Statue of Liberty, which depicts a robed woman holding a torch and is a symbol of freedom and democracy and a prominent draw for tourists, was one of the first sights seen by millions of immigrants who arrived in New York harbor in the 19th and 20th centuries. The crown has been closed because of security worries since the terror attacks on the World Trade Center in the city on 11 Sep 2001. The museum gallery and observation deck at the landmark's base were reopened to the public in 2004, but access beyond that point remained prohibited. Announcing the plan on May 8, United States Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said reopening the crown on Independence Day would be a "great birthday present for the American people." Some 3.2 million people visited the statue in 2007, up from 2.5 million in 2006 but below the 3.6 million in 2000, the National Park service said. Salazar said a maximum of 10 people would be able to occupy the crown at any time, allowing for 30 visitors an hour, or 50,000 a year in the initial phase. A lottery will choose who will go to the crown. "As we move forward and make additional improvements, we will move up to about 100,000 people a year," Salazar said. May/09

Statue of Liberty's crown to reopen July 4 (Reuters 8 May 2009)

US jobless rate hits 25-year high (Reuters 8 May 2009)

US job losses slowed as economy begins to stabilize (Bloomberg 8 May 2009)

Date written/update: 2009-07-04