So a week or two ago, I was cleaning up some stuff in my basement and in a huge Rubbermaid tub that was full of old VHS tapes found an old tape labeled “Liberty Weekend.” I don’t remember grabbing it from my parents’ house when I moved away, but that’s not a surprise considering I grabbed quite a few things from their basement that I am sure they were happy to get rid of.
Still, I had to wonder why we had a tape labeled “Liberty Weekend” (not why I grabbed it–that’s explained by my love of having random crap) and then I noticed that the handwriting on the label was neither mine nor my parents’. It was that of my dad’s old friend, Chuck, or “Uncle” Chuck as we used to call him. He was the guy who once copied the entire Star Wars trilogy from laserdisc to VHS for me, so that meant that he’d probably put something together either using the footage from Liberty Weekend or for Liberty Weekend.
After realizing what it was, I had to wonder why he had put together the tape to begin with, unless he had been trying out some sort of editing equipment and decided to have a little fun. Then, I actually started to watch the tape and remembered how huge the Statue of Liberty centennial celebration was twenty-five years ago. So much so that not only did I decide to take the time to reflect on the weekend but a lot more.
Because in all honesty, it was very hard to escape the Statue of Liberty’s 100th anniversary, especially if you were a kid living in the New York City area. The weekend of July 4, 1986 was a four-day party in and around New York City (especially New York harbor) and it was quite possibly one of the hugest things I had seen at the time, or since. But the story really starts a few years earlier and encompasses more than a fireworks show and a concert that wound up in my basement in Virginia a quarter century later.