As real (and proud) New Yorkers, we make a point of generally avoiding the big tourist traps in our city. It’s pretty safe to say that the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Rockefeller Center, etc., are not regular stops on your given cosmopolatino’s urban ramblings. But, when family and friends from out of town come to visit, we revisit (or visit for the first time) these iconic landmarks.
Such was my reason for heading to Battery Park this past Saturday, where I encountered about five Statue of Liberty “impersonators”–people dressed up as Lady Liberty for tourists to take photos with. All were wearing the exact same outfit: green robes, crown, face mask, and gloves, sunglasses, American flag in arms.
What is not evident, however, is that the people dressed up as these quintessential symbols of American freedom and patriotism are all Latin American immigrants. Their costumes cover their faces and skin (color), and they don’t speak with the tourists who take photos with them, so their identity is concealed from most. But I spoke with a woman as she set up, and she said that all of the eleven men and women in their group of Statues of Liberty were from Latin America. Someone later told me that many, if not all, are undocumented.
This information is by no means shocking, but is definitely worth reflecting upon, especially in light of Columbus Day/Dia de la Raza/Dia de la Hispanidad tomorrow (not to mention the election in a few weeks…). A little food (or liberty?) for thought.
(photos from Flickr, as I was camera-less)