WINTER PARK, Fla. - Hundreds gathered in Winter Park on Tuesday as 17 people from around the world were sworn in as some of America's newest citizens.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administered the Oath of Allegiance during a special naturalization ceremony in Central Park.
As part of the 241st anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, USCIS welcomed nearly 15,000 new U.S. citizens during 65 ceremonies across the country.
Jose Padrino, who is from Venezuela, was sworn in alongside his son Freddy.
"We came here to be free and [we're] very happy to be in America," Padrino said. "Working hard, it's just the way America is and we're just so humble to be here."
After struggles in his home country, Padrino brought his sons to Central Florida in 2005 when he was hired as an engineer.
"I took a very hard decision, but I'm very glad that I took it," Padrino said.
Since then, Padrino's oldest son gained his own citizenship and is currently serving in the U.S. Marines.
After Tuesday's ceremony, the newly naturalized Americans said this Independence Day is one they'll never forget.
"It's pretty exciting. A lot of my friends are going to be celebrating today by shooting fireworks and having good old American fun," Freddy Padrino said.
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