Government Shutdown: Tourists Fuming Over Statue of Liberty Closure

The government shutdown's first real victims were tourists in the U.S. this weekend, some of whom had planned months in advance to travel to landmarks that were closed.

The National Parks Service announced on Friday that if Congress didn't reach a deal on their budget by midnight, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty would be closed to visitors. Ultimately, the shutdown went into effect, but Battery Park in lower Manhattan was still filled with confused ticket holders on Saturday morning, who had planned on seeing the beloved statue for themselves.

"If they knew it was being shut down, they should have told us," said Amparo Mendez, 17, an exchange student from Argentina. She and her friend, Brunella Pettoroso, told reporters from Reuters that they had purchased tickets online a week in advance for their tour of the statue.

"We came with the notion to see the Statue of Liberty, and it's not the same to see it from here," said 16-year-old Pettoroso. Neither of the students had heard about the shutdown, and when reporters explained it to them, they simply rolled their eyes.

"We're not coming back," Pettoroso said.

Matthew Rutter, am employee Statue Cruises, said, "People have been a little bummed out, but they're not mad at us. They are mad at the government."

Those people included Ateeb Iftikhar, 31, and his wife, Komal, 26, from Karachi, Pakistan. They arrived at Battery Park on Saturday with their 5-month-old baby, hoping to pay a visit to the historic Lady Liberty.

"I was wanting so much to get married and come here with my husband and see the Statue of Liberty," Komal said. "I'm a little sad."

Reporters spoke to a retired couple from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Stephen O'Malley and Mary Hawks. The two had purchased tickets months ago, hoping to see the historic landing site of so many immigrants in the early 20th century. The two blamed the lawmakers in Washington for their stunted vacation.

"I have to put more blame on the Republicans, because they have all the control right now, but I don't blame it all on them. They should have been able to make a deal," O'Malley said.


Other landmarks, museums and services funded by the federal government across the country have closed or will soon if a budget isn't passed.