An Iacocca Family Tradition Continues

No immigrant remembers the boat ride to America very fondly. But they remember the day they got to New York. They all came up on deck, dressed in their best clothes because this was the biggest day of their lives. They stood on the deck with just those clothes on their back and maybe a suitcase with a rope around it. And the first thing they saw was the Statue of Liberty.

Lee Iacocca, Founding Chairman
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation

Honoring Lady Liberty then...

The son of Italian immigrants, Lido Anthony “Lee” Iacocca went from modest beginnings in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley to become a titan of the U.S. automobile industry and one of the world’s most notable business leaders.

Even with all his success, Lee Iacocca remained humbled by and grateful for the sacrifices of his parents and the millions of immigrants who left their homes for a new life in America.

So, when President Ronald Reagan asked him to chair the initiative to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island for their respective centennials, this first-generation American accepted as a way of honoring those who came before him.

In 1986, Lee led a four-day extravaganza commemorating the statue’s reopening. Millions attended dozens of events throughout the Liberty Weekend Celebration.

Among them was a young Lisa Kelechava alongside her family, including Uncle Lee.

“That weekend was such a special event and milestone in this country’s history,” Lisa remembers. “To see the rebirth of a symbol that meant so much to people like my grandparents was a pretty incredible experience. And the fact that my entire family was able to share that weekend with my grandmother, who herself made that difficult journey many years prior, was an amazing gift.”

...and Now

Fast forward nearly 40 years and Lisa is still celebrating the iconic statue in her role as Founder and designer of Joy to the World Collectibles, which specializes in creating European handcrafted glass ornaments.

Through the years Lady Liberty has been a featured subject in the Joy to the World collections. But in 2023, the Iacocca family’s connection to the statue took on a new meaning with the unveiling of Liberty Torch, a limited-edition collectible ornament created especially for The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.

“This is a personal initiative for me,” says Lisa. “My family has deep ties to the Statue of Liberty, so to be able to use our unique talents to design a custom ornament to help fund the continued preservation is incredibly meaningful. Ornament-making is an art form for Joy to the World. These handcrafted replicas of one of our greatest landmarks serve as a reminder of our nation’s heritage.”

All proceeds from the sale of the Liberty Torch collectible will go to the Foundation to support the nonprofit’s mission to restore and preserve these beloved monuments.