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Miss Liberty: Touching Moment

September 12, 1986|SHIRLEY MARLOW

The handicapped have not been free to fully enjoy one of the nation's symbols of liberty--until now. Among the hundreds of disabled people gathered on Liberty Island for Statue of Liberty Access Celebration Day was Ray Bloomer, a blind man who stroked life-size copies of the statue's foot and face. "The statue represents liberty and freedom, so we wanted disabled people to have the opportunity to experience all of that," said Bloomer, a disabled program specialist with the National Park Service. Other measures to aid the handicapped include replacing steps on the island with ramps, equipping an elevator to carry wheelchairs to the various museum levels and an observatory, lowering sinks, phones and counters and providing assistance for the hearing-impaired.

--New York City officials joined singer Diana Ross in breaking ground for a Central Park playground to be built with a $275,000 gift made after her 1983 concert at the park. Parks Commissioner Henry Stern said that Ross helped design plans for the reconstruction of the 50-year-old playground at West 81st Street. It is scheduled for completion next spring. "Some of the playgrounds (I've seen), as I've traveled throughout America and even Europe, you find the swings that pinch the fingers and the concrete that might hurt if they fell down, so my intent in creating this playground is safety first," Ross said.

--Since his act proved to be more than even he could swallow, James Cook has been recovering in a Wichita hospital. The 24-year-old sword swallower from Arlington, Tex., cut a gash in his esophagus with a samurai sword during a performance at the Kansas State Fair in Wichita. Cook is recuperating from surgery to close the two-inch wound. He said his throat has been stretched to the point where he can swallow four swords at once, but the sword he was using when he cut himself has a blade 24 inches long and 2 inches wide, one-fourth of an inch wider than normal. "My boss has called several times to see when I can return to the show. We don't have a replacement because there's not too many people who will do this sort of thing," Cook said.

--John A. Zaccaro Jr., who faces charges of possessing and selling cocaine, has withdrawn from Middlebury College in Vermont six months before he was to have been graduated, college public affairs director Ronald Nief said. He said the son of former vice presidential candidate Geraldine A. Ferraro would have to reapply for admission to complete his undergraduate work in political science. Zaccaro has pleaded not guilty to a charge of possessing cocaine with intent to sell and a charge of selling a regulated drug.

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