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Historic Sites Re-Open, Furloughed Federal Employees Back To Work

By Mark Pratt, Associated Press
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BOSTON (AP) — Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Massachusetts reopened to the public on Thursday following a Congressional deal that ended the more than two-week partial government shutdown.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports

Park rangers opened gates and removed signs apologizing for the shutdown at the Charlestown Naval Yard in Boston at 6 a.m., a full four hours before the USS Constitution opened for public tours.

U.S. Park Rangers unlock the gates to the Charlestown Navy Yard, Oct. 17, 2013. (WBZ-TV)

U.S. Park Rangers unlock the gates to the Charlestown Navy Yard, Oct. 17, 2013. (WBZ-TV)

Because it’s a military installation, the Constitution remained fully staffed, even though tourists weren’t allowed to board the historic warship. Sailors spent much of the 16-day shutdown cleaning and maintaining the ship, making it sparkle.

“We’re quite excited to open her back up to the public,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Peter Melkus said. “She looks great and she’s ready to go.”

Tourists returned to the USS Constitution Thursday. (Photo by Sera Congi - WBZ-TV)

Tourists returned to the USS Constitution Thursday. (Photo by Sera Congi – WBZ-TV)

The Cape Cod National Seashore, which attracts almost 4.5 million visitors per year, also reopened and was fully staffed for the first since the shutdown started.

Gates reopened Thursday, allowing visitors back in the sprawling 44,000-acre park, and bathrooms and the visitors’ center were also expected to reopen, said Craig Thatcher, North District Ranger.

Thatcher was one of 11 park employees out of nearly 100 who continued to work through the crisis.

They did routine maintenance, so the park looks good, he said.

“We heard from the public during the partial government shutdown that people were happy to see us still in the park,” he said.

“Right now, it’s just a matter of communicating to let people let them know we’re up and functioning,” he said, adding that his colleagues are happy to be back.

Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of workers have been furloughed since the shutdown began Oct. 1

President Barack Obama earlier Thursday signed a bipartisan measure to end a 16-day partial shutdown and avert the possibility of an economy-jarring default on U.S. obligations.

Some other government-run attractions reopening in Massachusetts Thursday included the Minute Man National Historic Site in Concord, and the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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