By Hayden Farmer
St. Louis Park made history June 29, when 174 immigrants from 51 countries gathered to become officially naturalized citizens of the United States.
In 130 years this was the first time that St. Louis Park had hosted a naturalization ceremony, according to Mayor Jake Spano.
Bolivia, Ecuador, Uganda, Cuba and Columbia were just a few of the vast number of countries represented at the ceremony.
The ceremony was at the Recreation Outdoor Center near Wolfe Park. Hundreds gathered to watch as the 174 people awaited their certification.
“In a few minutes you will officially be American citizens,” said Steve Simon, Minnesota Secretary of State. “You will be American citizens by choice, and never let anyone ever tell you that is anything less than an American by birth.”
The newly admitted citizens completed the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States and listened to congratulatory speeches from members of the local, state and federal government. At the conclusion of the ceremony, both the new and old Americans alike participated in the Pledge of Allegiance.
“In the 130-year history of St. Louis Park, we’ve never hosted one of these; this is our first,” Spano said. “I know they do them fairly regularly in St. Paul and Minneapolis, but this is the only one we have planned for here, and I hope it is not the last.”
After the ceremony concluded, the citizens were greeted by the League of Women Voters, whose members were in attendance to assist all the new citizens to exercise their right to vote by registering them with the state.
“This was great. I have been looking forward to this for a long time,” said Yordanos Mamo, a newly granted U.S. citizen from Ethiopia. “My plan is to bring my family here. They are still back in Ethiopia, but this is still a very exciting day for me.”