Monday, October 10, 2011

On Saturday, October 8th, six of the ProRangers and Don Sweet had the awesome opportunity to visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty National Monument in New York. We woke up bright and early to begin the trek toward New York City. Our mission for the day was to educate park visitors about fire prevention and safety. When we first arrived, we were given a brief overview of Ellis Island's history along with a quick tour of the grounds and museum. (Fire prevention is a topic close to the hearts of the Ellis Island rangers. Soon after the first building was completed, the entire structure burned down! Thankfully no one died in that fire because they had recently practiced several fire drills. They re-built using bricks and cement instead of wood like the old building.) Soon after we finished setting up for the day, people started arriving by boatloads! The ProRangers helped greet visitors, direct people toward the fire safety table, educate kids about how to get out of a burning building the fastest and safest way, and hand out coloring books, fire safety stuffed animals, and stickers to the parks younger visitors.

Around lunch time we all boarded the New Jersey boat and headed over to the Statue of Liberty. One of the rangers there gave us a "VIP" tour around the Island and up into the statue itself. This was the first time any of us had ever been to the Statue of Liberty, so it was an extra special trip for us all! After a quick lunch, we got on the ferry and went back to the Ellis Island museum.

During the last part of our work day, all the ProRangers had the opportunity to go look at the wall of immigrant names. There are several hundred thousand names on the wall right now. They are there because they have donated money to the museum/park. However, there are many more names of families on record that came through the island and into America.

It was really great to spend time at a place steeped in so much history. I was excited to find the names of several other Hyde's on the wall at the museum. It made me feel just that much more connected to the island where I was working. One of the coolest things about the park, in my opinion, was getting to meet so many people of different nationalities. I don't think I have ever heard that many different languages being spoken in one place before! It was really a great sample of the "Melting Pot" that is America.

The event was a great success! The weather was perfect and we educated many people about fires and how to prevent them. We also met a lot of new people and expanded our park service family. Now, we are looking forward to the next time we get to go back for a visit - October 28th! Thank you to everyone who made this opportunity possible.

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