SAN PEDRO (CBS) — A big celebration was held in San Pedro Friday night to officially welcome the legendary battleship USS Iowa to Southern California.

The retired battleship also opens to the public tomorrow after a ten-month wait.

The excitement is building and Juan Fernandez, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, was at the big celebration to talk to people who can’t wait to tour the ship. And those who helped put the floating museum together.

Said Robert Kent, “Wow. We’re just so excited. Finally. Tomorrow, we’re opening. We’re going to have all these new tourists, new guests coming down to see what San Pedro is all about.”

He also spoke to men who served on the landmark vessel.

William C. Smith, now 86, and a resident of Cincinnati was there. He was 18 when he first climbed aboard. “I would advise every one to come down and see it. It’s a quite awesome ship.”

Ron Bingle, from Michigan, served on board the Iowa 22 years ago. It’s a time he says he will never forget. “It’s great to be back. To bring my family with me. To have my kids see where I was — is awesome.”

He often shares stories about the great ship with his family. His young daughter was impressed. “It seems like a maze to get through everything.”

Not far from the Iowa, Fernandez took note of the tivoli lights that gave 6th street a nostalgic 1940s feel.

Congressman Janice Hahn is hoping the apparent Iowa fever is catching and spreading. The hope is, this attraction remains vital and helps bring new life (and financials) to the downtown area. “As you can see tonight,” she told Fernandez, “people are flocking down here…to look at her. To tour her. Everybody has Iowa fever.”


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