Thousands of people visited the Statue of Liberty Thursday for the first time after months of repairs.
"I was born here in New York and moved to Puerto Rico when I was 5 years old."
For William Nieves, this was a homecoming. He brought his wife and son to see the grand lady Thursday morning – a first time visit for all three.
"Well for me it meant freedom, it's a symbol of our country," said Nieves.
The Statue of Liberty officially reopened to the public Thursday morning. It has been closed since October after Superstorm Sandy walloped Liberty Island.
"Sandy created a lot of damage. We learned a lot, for example, we had wooden boardwalks and they got carried away and the cement ones didn't," said Mayor Bloomberg.
The damage extended beyond the boardwalks. Pairs fell to Paul Natoli and his crew. They worked around the clock with the National Park Service to ensure Lady Liberty would be ready to welcome visitors by the Fourth of July.
"The surge came and all the brick pavers that you see here, around the perimeter of the monument were completely removed from the water," said Paul Natoli of Natoli Construction Corp. "The lawns were destroyed and basically, the island was a few feet under water."
"It was no small feat to really restore this on this day, the day that we celebrate the birth of this nation," said Jonathan Jarvis of the National Park Service.
Liberty Island looks great as does Lady Liberty and seeing her in person is also an awesome gift from husband to wife.
"It's our anniversary, 26 years is it?" said one couple at Lady Liberty.