Keystone sees boost from fireworks

By: 
Leslie Silverman

The July 3 fireworks event at Mount Rushmore had a significant impact on the town of Keystone, businesses and nonprofits alike.

The Keystone Project “had over 200 vehicles and served more than 1,000 meals,” to visitors July 3, according to David Saldivar.

“People were super happy and appreciative of the parking opportunity,” he said.

The parking area in Old Keystone, which landowners leased to the city for the event, did not fare as well.

“We didn't make as much as we anticipated,” said Jon Veltman, one of a handful of volunteers that manned the lot as early as 7 a.m.  “We made about $200 total. So $100 to each organization.”

Private businesses that sold parking spots seemed to do much better, likely due to their proximity to the monument.

“We had over 400 people watching the fireworks from our parking,” said business owner Sandi McLain. “It was difficult to get here due to the protests and road closures. Once they got here, the comradery among the people was so uplifting.”

The Keystone Visitor Information Center saw a “glowing 171 daily visits on average” for the first five days in July, according to the chamber director Robin Pladson.

Monument Health provided 10,000 masks and 20 gallons of sanitizer to Keystone during the Independence Day holiday.

While it is unclear what the local tax benefit of the event was for Keystone, the state estimates that “the event generated an estimated $2 million in direct visitor spending for the state and spurred an estimated $160,000 in immediate tax revenues to state and local governments,” according to a press release by Katlyn Richter from the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

The state spent approximately $1.5 million on the event.

“The cost of the fireworks display and other items will be paid for with future funds and the other costs will be paid by the Department of Tourism,” the department of tourism release reads.

Current totals show that Keystone spent $250 on additional portable toilets for the event. The town also purchased signs for the Mount Rushmore events totaling $218.

Overtime for public works department employees were found to be just shy of $1,900. The town’s paid parking lot generated $1,963  July 3.

July bed, board and booze and sales tax numbers for Keystone are not yet available.

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