Liberty Weekend caused the following things to happen:
At 11:01 a.m. Saturday the Liberty Weekend Center for News Media was "dedicated," as Liberty Weekend spokesman Jonas Halperin put it, with the release of 500 homing pigeons at the door of the New York Coliseum. In accordance with Liberty Weekend Rule No. 732 ("Not one step may be taken without an accompanying ceremony"), Laurimore P. McConnell, past president of the American Racing Pigeon Union, opened the cages and 500 pairs of wings whooshed into the air, stirring up a cyclone of grit, dirt, cinders, cigarette butts and assorted other detritus that sent the assembled reporters into fits of coughing.
Somehow, through the cloud, Halperin managed to exclaim, "Ooh!"
All of this was a sort of test-fly for July 5, when McConnell will "liberate" 5,000 homing pigeons belonging to him and other pigeon fanciers from the Statue of Liberty in an event called "The Birds of Peace." But with at least half a dozen news organizations represented Saturday, McConnell took the opportunity to lobby for his birds, who suffer from comparisons with the "less muscular" pigeons that make Manhattan their home.
"We call those common pigeons 'park rats,' " he said. "We're not very enamored of them either, because they give us a bad reputation."
In a nicely timed survey, 88 percent of Americans queried said the Statue of Liberty best represented the United States as a symbol. The American flag came in a poor second, with 46 percent, and the Lincoln Memorial . . . forget it.
Rep. Frank J. Guarini (D-N.J.) sent Statue of Liberty T-shirts printed with the motto "Liberty Lives in New Jersey" to his colleagues.
New York police have brought in the Army's Delta Force counterterrorist group, according to The New York Times. These were the people deployed for the 1984 Olympics, just in case. As many as 15 million visitors are expected around the temporarily renamed "Liberty Harbor."
You need a hotel room in New York? Maybe 3,000 of the 100,000 rooms there are still available, from camping sites to suites. "We're used to handling crowds," said one nonchalant spokesman.
Manhattan is festooned with 10-foot plastic replicas of you-know-who. You can buy a Liberty planter with the top of the head cut off for plants to grow in. Earrings made of spinach pasta wheels are on sale with Liberty's face in the center. Bloomingdale's has a $580 leather Liberty bag. Also baking tins in the shape of the head and torch for $10.
Retiring Chief Justice Warren Burger proclaimed that America's liberties appear safe from any threat to undermine them. "This country wouldn't stand for it very long," he said.