Ellis Island tribute: in song and story On Tuesday, the...

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January 03, 2002|By Tricia Bishop

Ellis Island tribute: in song and story

On Tuesday, the Enoch Pratt Forest Park Branch Library marks the 110th anniversary of the opening of the Ellis Island Immigration Station. The librarians will lead kids in singing patriotic songs such as "America" and Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," and read stories, including Elvira Woodruff's The Memory Coat, which tells the tale of immigrants seeking freedom in the United States.

The book follows Grisha, a turn-of-the-last-century Russian boy trying to pass the required inspections so he can enter the country. Accompanying relatives fear that his tattered coat, which the authorities surely won't like, might ruin his chances. But Grisha refuses to discard it because his mother made it just before she died.

Grisha's story is based on one of the millions of true stories of immigrants who came to Ellis Island, which opened Jan. 1, 1892. In its 62 years of operation, more than 12 million people passed through its doors and settled in new homes in America. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum estimates that 40 percent of today's U.S. population is descended from that influx of immigrants.

The island is located about a mile from Manhattan's shore in Upper New York Bay.

The library program begins at 4 p.m. at 3023 Garrison Blvd., 410-396-0942.

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