NEW YORK – The grounds of Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty stands, hosted a party Wednesday night in honor of the iconic sculpture which is getting a new museum, with performances by Gloria Estefan and Tony Bennet and talk show host Oprah Winfrey among the guests.
Just a day before the museum opens its doors to the public, dozens of famous personalities from the world of politics and entertainment in New York City took the ferry in the direction of the colossal neoclassical sculpture to honor her as a symbol not only of freedom but of equality and respect for human rights.
Oprah, who was the last to arrive in an immaculate white dress, said it was “pretty emotional to see her (the statue) this close for the first time” and “what it represents for everybody who’s coming to the shore” (for years, the statue greeted immigrants arriving in the United States).
“Let freedom ring, y’all,” she said in a video posted on Twitter.
Before heading to the event, where she also delivered the inaugural address and received the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island award, the popular talk show host told reporters that the statue was a symbol of open borders, an ideal of what America is, which is freedom for the entire world.
The award, made of original materials from both monuments, acknowledges Winfrey’s work in support of the American experience and her global efforts in defense of human rights and freedoms.
Other guests at the event included celebrities such as actor Johnny Galecki (of The Big Bang Theory), Nicky Hilton (Paris Hilton’s sister) and Jeff Bezos, the owner of American multinational technology company Amazon.
“At the Statue of Liberty, where my dad’s being honored with a Liberty Star as part of the new museum’s opening,” Bezos posted on Twitter.
The gala, with more than 500 guests, was held on the eve of the opening of the new Statue of Liberty museum, whose centerpiece is the statue’s original torch removed in 1986 in the centennial restoration.
Also present was 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who did not pose for the cameras but went directly to the boat that took her to the island.
There she ran into millionaire Michael Bloomberg, the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat and former mayor of New York City, who also donated funds for the construction of the museum.
Stephen Briganti, president and CEO of the Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation, said the event guaranteed for all times that the history, significance and importance of the Statue of Liberty would be passed on to other generations to come.
His sentiment was echoed by designer Diane von Furstenberg, chair of the Statue of Liberty Museum’s fundraising campaign, who said the statue had a real power to make things happen and added that it had been an exciting journey to discover its history and share it with others.
Also in attendance was magician David Copperfield, who made the statue disappear in front of a live audience in 1983, but said he had no intention of doing so this time.