Happy 125th Birthday, Lady Liberty! You’re Almost as Popular as Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis? Oui, oui. (Associated Press)

“I learned a few things today,” Ariane Dagun said from the top deck of the Lady Liberty ferry, which was motoring back toward Battery Park last Thursday morning. “I discovered that Bloomberg and Sarkozy are the same height, which was convenient for the podium. They did not have to change anything, since Sarkozy is very self-conscious about his height.”

Ms. Dagun was one of more than 100 New Yorkers, Frenchmen, and most of all French New Yorkers like herself, who had made the journey to Liberty Island with the president of France and the mayor of New York. They were there to celebrate the statue that country presented the city 125 years ago.

Maybe it was one too many petite croissants at the ceremony, but The Transom wanted to know, who was the bigger American icon, the Statue of Liberty or Jerry Lewis? “Definitively the Statue of Liberty,” said Ms. Dagun, founder of D’Artagnan gourmet foods (find their foie gras in your local grocer’s freezer). “We find Jerry Lewis very funny, we love his ability to make the strangest faces—our own Louis De Funes did that too—but that’s as far as it goes.”

Jean-Jacques de Saint Andrieu, an executive at Air France, has been in the city for 46 years, after coming on a school trip. “I stayed for the Liberty of New York,” he said, and as such, that is where his allegiance lies. “For me, I think it is the Statue of Liberty,” he said. “It represents much more psychologically, historically and socially.”

CharlElie, a gallerist who in a former life was Charlélie Couture, a chart-topping musician with more than 20 albums (he was the first Frenchman ever signed to Island Records) took the side one might expect of a man in a backward beret and forked goatee. “No doubt, Jerry,” he exclaimed. “Simply because Jerry’s American. The Statue of Liberty is even more a universal icon than strictly American. If you would ask to French people Jerry Lewis’ nationality, they’ll say he’s American. If you ask them about the statue, they might say she’s French.”

In the spirit of Jerry Lewis—who got his vote—Pascal Escriout, the owner of the bistro Tournesol in Long Island City, said, “I would love to see a statue of him holding a baguette at the entrance of Paris to greet the tourists.”

Rabbi Levi Djian, the nattiest rebbe The Observer had ever met, said he would pick neither. “The Statue of liberty is a gift from France to the U.S.A., which both share t

mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC

Happy 125th Birthday, Lady Liberty! You’re Almost as Popular as Jerry Lewis