Walt Disney World Hosts the Swearing-In of 1,000 New Americans on July 4, 2007

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – July 4,2007.  Rain fell, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of more than 1,000 immigrants from 101 countries, who realized their dream of becoming American citizens during a Naturalization ceremony on July 4th at the Walt Disney World Resort. For the first time ever, the Magic Kingdom park was the backdrop as Disney, in partnership with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), jointly hosted the “American Dream Come True” swearing-in ceremony at the forecourt of the Cinderella Castle.

Following a welcome address by Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Co., USCIS director Emilio Gonzalez presided over the ceremony and administered the Oath of Allegiance. As rain began to fall, US Senator Mel Martinez offered the keynote speech, inspiring the audience with his own experience as a Cuban immigrant at age 15, and urging the new citizens to get active in their community. At one point, the clearly drenched Senator stopped mid-speech to acknowledge the pouring rain. “Okay, so your seats are a little wet. Get over it! It’s still a beautiful day in America!!”, resulting in laughter and a rousing applause from the audience.

Additionally, singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan sang the Star-Spangled Banner, and she and her husband Emilio were recognized as outstanding Americans by Choice by the USCIS. Lee Greenwood then offered a stirring performance of “God Bless the USA.”

Following the ceremony, the new citizens and their families, led by the WDW marching band, formed a parade down Main Street, U.S.A. As they waved their American flags and cheered, a squadron of US Air Force F-15 jets streaked by overhead, capping the celebration.

 

Pictured from left to right are: 

Emilio Estefan, Senator Mel Martinez, Meg Crofton, Director Emilio Gonzalez, Gloria Estefan, Lee Greenwood