An All-American Razzle-Dazzle Finale With AM-Liberty Rdp, Bjt
Jul. 07, 1986
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ With the refurbished Statue of Liberty returned to her people, a gigantic razzle-dazzle bash with waterfalls, laser beams and music from gospel to rock 'n' roll on Sunday capped the nation's celebration of freedom.
The 8,000-member cast of the Liberty Weekend finale brought together stars such as Kenny Rogers, Gene Kelly and Liza Minnelli, 850 cape-swirling drill team marchers, a 250-voice choir and a 500-instrument band with its 76 trombones.
The 54,000 members of the audience also performed in a stunning flashlight pageant that on cue lit up the darkened stands of Giant Stadium in shimmering red, white and blue stars and stripes and spelled ''Liberty'' across the highest tier.
For the go-out-with-a-bang finale, the darkened stadium was awash in red flashlights, blue laser beams and fireworks as the band outlined the United States and the cast and audience joined in ''America the Beautiful.'' Then 30,000 red, white, blue and silver balloons, some 12 feet wide, were released to the night sky as the crowd, dancing and hugging, closed Liberty Weekend with ''This Land Is Your Land.''
''Let us renew our devotion to the bright vision of America's future that the Statue of Liberty stands for,'' Vice President George Bush told the crowd.
Impresario David Wolper, who wowed the world with the 1984 Olympic opening ceremonies, planned the $6 million spectacular that turned an end zone into a 20-tier, 200-foot-wide stage with waterfalls and fountains, laser lights and video screens. A huge seven-point Statue of Liberty crown overlooked the field, with pop-art flags on either side.
A motorized stage pulled away amid flashing strobes of light and billowing smoke as the first of the Elvis Presley look-alikes arrived on a motorcycle. A hundred more of the late singer's imitators followed, each gyrating in tight white pants, to rock with 235 jazz dancers in petticoats to a medley of the King's tunes. Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Fabian pulled up in 1950s convertibles, followed by the Temptations and The Four Tops in silver lame.
In one of the lavish numbers, a Hollywood stuntman flew around the stadium with a rocket pack as fireworks popped and the Pointer Sisters rose from beneath the stage. Laser beams etched huge stars on the field as plumes of smoke and fireworks shot up 50 feet from the stage.
Ms. Minnelli belted out ''New York, New York'' on a spotlighted stage surrounded by dazzling strings of white lights and a frenzied audience creating a rhinestone backdrop with their flashlights.
A standing ovation greeted the 200 of the 700 workers who repaired the Statue of Liberty as they and their families took to the stage to receive a certificate from Lee Iacocca, the lead fund-raiser for the restoration.
''We give your our thanks for giving us back our statue in good health, ready for another couple hundred more years,'' said Iacocca, who had introduced them with, ''Somebody has to do the work.''
Willie Nelson then joined the workers on stage, singing ''Living in the Promiseland'' as a tribute to them and other working people nationwide. Nelson and Rogers teamed up for a tribute to the statue, ''You Are So Beautiful.''
The spectators paid $25 to $200 for seats, but the stadium was not filled and tickets were given away when the performance got under way.
The pageantry started with fireworks and a replica of the statue's crown and the word ''Liberty'' spelled out by a dance corps holding balloons, which were then released to fill the open-air stadium with color. Another intricate formation formed a flapping American flag with the drill team's capes.
Representatives of many lands filled the stage in native costumes as Rogers sang ''Through the Years'' in tribute. France, which gave the United States the Statue of Liberty, was represented by its 55-member equestrian team, the riders playing drums and horns.
Earlier, scores of professional and amateur athletes, including Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Hank Aaron and Mary Lou Retton, appeared at the Brendan Byrne Arena in a ''sports salute'' to the statute.
Impresario David Wolper, who wowed the world with the 1984 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, planned the $6 million spectacular that turned an end zone in the stadium into a 20-tier stage with waterfalls and fountains, laser lights and video screens.
A motorized stage was created to carry the stars across the field and an elevated runway ringed the stadium for the gyrating Elvis Presley look-alikes, jazz dancers, banjo players, an equestrian team and square dancers.
Elizabeth Taylor introduced the Statue of Liberty All-American Marching Band and jazz performers followed.
Banjo players, fiddlers and square dancers gave a down-home country romp before Waylon Jennings sang ''America'' surrounded by fountains.
Billy Preston, who rose from under the stage with his organ, and Patti LaBelle, her hair laquered to a liberty crown, belted out gospels surrounded by a robed choir and blue laser beams.
Shirley MacLaine did a vampish number with powder blue feather fans as the band spelled ''Hollywood'' and hundreds of dancers performed equipped with top hats, sequins and canes. With a quick change to yellow slickers and umbrellas, the dancers escorted Kelly to the field and left him alone in the spotlight to one of the night's loudest ovations.
The extravaganza incorporated performers from every corner of the country and up to 100 million people nationwide were expected to watch on television. China, South America, Mexico and Canada were receiving live telecasts, while the show was to be broadcast in Europe on Monday.