Monticello Prepares for Fourth of July Naturalization Ceremony
Crews are gearing up for Thursday's Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.
Musician Dave Matthews is the keynote speaker for the annual event thousands of people are scheduled to go to.
It's typically calm and quiet at Monticello but Wednesday it was packed with hammering and other loud noises as workers geared up for the Fourth of July event. They spent the day setting up flags, a stage area and 4,000 chairs.
The ceremony will kick off at 9 a.m. with nine rings from Jefferson's gong. Eighty soon-to-be U.S. citizens from 38 countries will be naturalized in a tradition that has gone on at Monticello for more than 50 years.
"Their excitement and anticipation and gratitude is infectious to the rest of the audience," said Leslie Greene Bowman, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
After Matthews speaks, the court will go into session.
"This is really a federal courtroom being reconstituted at Monticello," Bowman said.
After the petitioners are administered their oath of citizenship, the Charlottesville Municipal Band will perform.
Members from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation say they make a special effort to have a keynote speaker who is a naturalized citizen, as Matthews is.
"Many people don't realize that this is the longest running naturalization ceremony held outside of a courtroom in the United States," said Ann Taylor, executive vice of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
The free event is sold out but there will be a live stream of the ceremony on the Monticello website. Monticello staff is asking guests to arrive extra early Thursday morning, saying 4,000 people will be shuttled from the Piedmont Virginia Community College parking lot to Monticello. They are also asking guests to carpool to save space.
You're going to want to avoid the area if you're not heading to the event. There are signs posted warning drivers of traffic delays. Monticello staff is also asking guests to not bring too many bags, as each one will have to be searched.