America Goes Rogue: 9 Ways People Are Getting Around the Shutdown

While the government remains closed, citizens find access to parks and programs.

October 15, 2013, 2:32 AM
PHOTO: People rally at the World War II Memorial in Washington, Oct. 13, 2013.
People rally at the World War II Memorial in Washington, Oct. 13, 2013.
Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Oct. 15, 2013 -- intro: As America enters week three of the government shutdown of 2013, the country's patience is waning, and, from the Grand Canyon to Washington, D.C., people are embracing their rebellious sides.

This week, several national parks and monuments re-opened through state or local funding. And even some of those that didn't have had their barricades pushed aside.

Meanwhile, several private charities have stepped in to fill the void left by Congress to keep programs running.

Here's a look at how some of the end-runs around the shutdown over the last two weeks:

quicklist:title:Lady Liberty Shines Againtext: The Statue of Liberty re-opened this weekend after being closed for 12 consecutive days due to a lack of funding from the federal government.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last Friday that New York State reached an agreement with the federal government to "fully fund the National Park Service personnel at the daily cost of $61,600 to keep Liberty Island National Park open to visitors as the federal government shutdown continues."

"Every day that Liberty Island is closed means we are losing visitors who would otherwise be spending at our local businesses -- not to mention the employees who maintain the park and have been forced out of work," Cuomo said in a statement. "As the shutdown continues, we cannot afford to lose the thousands of visits to the park each day. So while the dysfunction and gridlock in Washington, D.C., has failed to keep this important state asset open, New York is stepping up to take over this responsibility," the governor added.

New York State Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Dean G. Skelos outlined the historical significance of the landmark, and supported the governor's decision. "For years, the Statue of Liberty has stood as a powerful symbol of freedom and hope for millions of immigrants pursuing the American Dream," Skelos said. "I am proud to work with my partners in state government to ensure that the Statute of Liberty is re-opened to welcome tourists and new citizens, proving that even in the midst of this government shutdown in Washington, D.C., New York will continue to lead the way."

--Nicki Rossoll

quicklist:title:Grand Canyon: Open For Businesstext: Family vacations to the Grand Canyon are back on schedule this week, after the state of Arizona and the U.S. Department of the Interior decided to re-open the site on Friday.

Arizona will use state and local funds to pay $651,000 to the National Park Service and keep the Grand Canyon open for at least a week.

"Arizona is doing what it can to keep the Grand Canyon up and running, but we cannot pay the federal government's tab for long," Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement Friday.

"That said, I am proud to announce Grand Canyon will be open for business for the Columbus Day weekend," she added.

--Joan E. Greve

quicklist:title:Storming The Barricades: World War II Memorialtext:The D.C. monument that has quickly become a symbol of the government shutdown continues to draw visitors and protestors from all over the nation who refuse to let a barricade stop them from visiting the granite memorial at the foot of the reflecting pool on the National Mall.

Since the beginning of the shutdown, the World War II memorial has been a focal point for protests, originating with a group of 92 Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight Veterans who refused to let the shutdown inhibit them from visiting their memorial.

The veterans attracted bipartisan support from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., Doug Lamborn, R-Co, Mike Quigley, D-Ill., Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, and Senators Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Claire McCaskill, and D-Mo., Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

According to the National Park Service, the memorial remains officially closed, but a statement released by the department states Honor Flight members will not be barred from entering the site.

"The Honor Flights are being granted access to the WWII memorial to conduct First Amendment activities in accordance with National Park Service regulations applicable to the National Mall and Memorial Parks," National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said in a statement regarding the closure of the World War II and other national memorials in D.C. "This is consistent with the DOI Closure Determination and Notice issued on October 1, 2013."

The most recent protest at the monument occurred this weekend. Thousands of protesters broke through barricades at the memorial as part of the "Million Vet March." The newly formed group called the federal government closure of the memorial a "despicable act of cowardice" on its website and urged citizens of all political parties to take action against the closure.

Not only did the event draw thousands of supporters, but it also attracted some high-profile GOP figures, including Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and Republican vice presidential nominee, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

--Nicki Rossoll

quicklist:title:Yosemite Gets Occupiedtext: At one of America's most iconic national parks, the Occupy Yosemite protest was about as peaceful as the park it took place in. The brainchild of Stacey Powells, a news director for Eastern Sierra radio stations KMMT and KRHV, the protest took place in almost 20 degree weather on Oct. 5.

"Closing our national parks is absurd and is hurting all of us here in the Eastern Sierra," Powells wrote in a letter to the editor of Sierra Wave Media and posted online the week before the protest. "Our businesses are hurting. The Eastern Sierra is a tourist-based economy and by the feds closing the parks, the livelihood of our friends, neighbors and families are in jeopardy."

Because visitors were only permitted to drive through the park and not stop, the Occupy Yosemite group ditched its original plan for a sit-down at Tuolumne Meadows. The group instead went to the park's East Gate to check in with the rangers.

Park officials permitted the group to park just inside the gate, giving them a safe place to stand without the fear of being ticketed. The protesters held up signs, mainly neon creations that proclaimed phrases like "Parks for People, Not Politics," and talked with travelers who were waiting to cross the gate, discussing crushed vacation plans and offering gluten-free banana bread.

Despite the group's efforts, Yosemite remains closed to the general public.

--Anneta Konstantinides

quicklist:title:Head Start: Stop and Start Againtext: School was back in session for more than 7,000 children in Head Start programs thanks to a personal donation by Houston billionaire philanthropists John and Laura Arnold.

The $10 million gift re-opened the doors of 20 Head Start programs that were forced to close in six states during the first week of the government shutdown, leaving thousands of children without federally funded education and a number of working parents without access to child care.

"We believe that it is especially unfair that young children from underprivileged communities and working families pay the price for the legislature's collective failures," the Arnolds said in a statement. "In an effort to address this injustice, we will help keep the doors open at Head Start programs across the country this month. We sincerely hope that our government gets back to work in short order, as private dollars cannot in the long term replace government commitments."

According to the National Head Start Association, if the government shutdown isn't resolved by Nov. 1, programs serving more than 86,000 children in 41 states will be in danger of losing access to Head Start funding.

--Anneta Konstantinides

quicklist:title:Justice For Fallen Heroestext: President Obama signed a bill last week to restore military death benefits for the families of the men and women in uniform who lost their lives since the shutdown began on Oct. 1. But before Congress resolved this particular snafu, another entity offered to step in and fill the void.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced last week that the nonprofit Fisher House Foundation would cover the cost of the death benefits until the end of the shutdown.

Once the issue was resolved, Fisher House announced it would send a $25,000 check to each of the families who were affected.

"Since finding out about this terrible problem, Fisher House has stood ready to bridge the gap and pay the benefits due the families of our fallen heroes," said Ken Fisher, chairman and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation. "Now that our assistance is no longer needed, we wish to recognize the families who were impacted by the shutdown."

--Joan E. Greve

quicklist:title:The (New) Battle Of Gettysburgtext: Though the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the American Civil War may be technically closed, that hasn't stopped eager tourists from visiting Gettysburg during the shutdown.

Visitors have even posted photos to Twitter with signs that read, "Catch us if you can park rangers." According to this tweet from user Veritas388, park rangers continued to patrol Gettysburg National Military Park, but tourists saw the sights anyway -- even with an American flag in tow.

--Joan E. Greve

quicklist:title:Another Day In The Parktext: According to a report in the Daily Caller, "angry moms near the Eastern Market [of] Washington, D.C., have been diligently tearing down barriers erected by the National Park Service around Marion Park, or the turtle park as it is commonly referred to because of the fake turtles that children like to play on."

Sources told the Daily Caller "that the park was blocked off by park officials, but the source suspected that neighborhood moms have been taking down barriers to the park so their children could play there. In response, park officials keep erecting new ones, which the moms promptly tear down."

Other public parks in the DC area are seeing similar acts of rebellious behavior. According to this Instagram post, from user NikkiP815, kids at Stanton Park have not let the National Park Service sign and lock stop them from enjoying the playground. The user noted that "there's about 15 kids that hopped the fence and are playing right now" on Oct. 8.

--Nicki Rossoll

quicklist:title:Part Time Gigs For Furloughed Workerstext: As the shutdown pushes ahead to week three, furloughed workers are unsure when they will see their next government paycheck.

In order to make up for the lost pay, some government workers are taking up side jobs, with the approval of their full-time employers.

The Department of Energy released "General Guidance Regarding Outside Activities for Furloughed Employees," on Oct. 10, and ensured its furloughed staff that it was acceptable to seek and accept employment with non-federal businesses or organizations during the period that they are not at work.

Some suggested temporary employment options laid out by the DOE are retail, coaching, yoga instruction, fitness instruction, composing or performing music, real estate, telemarketing and more. The only caveat is employees temporary professions cannot be related to the DOE mission.

Other furloughed workers are getting in on part-time job opportunities. According to Washington Post's Emily Heil, the White House's deputy chief technology officer for telecommunications, Tom Power, has picked up some shifts slinging drinks at Gypsy Sally's, the new music venue in Georgetown.

--Nicki Rossoll

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