Rushmore July 3 fireworks plan detailed

Leslie Silverman

The July 3 fireworks event is beginning to take shape.

Specific plans for the July 3 fireworks in celebration of Independence Day at Mount Rushmore have been unveiled. President Donald Trump has announced his plans to attend the event as well.

“Following months of planning, I’m pleased to announce our specific plans for Mount Rushmore Fireworks July 3,” said Gov. Kristi Noem.

South Dakota has worked tirelessly with the Department of the Interior, including the National Park Service, to ensure this celebration is as safe and successful as possible.

“President Trump recognizes the celebration of our nation’s founding to be about our history, our people and the heroes who proudly defend our flag — the brave men and women of the United States Military,” said secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “Bringing an incredible firework display back to Mount Rushmore is for the American people and those who have made the United States the greatest country in the world, and I thank Governor Noem and the State of South Dakota for being wonderful partners in helping us make this possible.”

The South Dakota Department of Tourism has spearheaded planning for this event in collaboration between several agencies, including local, county, state and federal officials.

“Now more than ever, South Dakota and our nation need something to look forward to, and we can’t think of a better event than celebrating our nation’s independence at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. We are very honored to be working with our partners at the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service,” said Jim Hagen, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism. “Millions of people from around the globe will witness this incredible, spectacular happening right in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills of The Mount Rushmore State.”

According to Katlyn Richter of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, the vendor for the event will be Pyro Spectaculars from Rialto, Calif.

“The contract for the fireworks display vendor is up to $350,000,” Ritchter said.

 The cost for the fireworks event is covered by many entities including the State of South Dakota, which will be dispersed across several departments for the event. Those details are continuing to be worked out.

The request for proposal for the display from the State shows the “length of time for the July 3 display shall be no less than 15 minutes and no more than 30 minutes of continuous firing. The display shall include enough shells and other articles pyrotechnic to fill at least a 15-minute display period. Shells shall be distributed within the following segments: opening, main body, and finale, as requested by the state. Criteria for the show design will include the addition of color, variety and specialty shells. Aerial fireworks shall be constructed of 100 percent biodegradable casings, tapes, glues and strings.”

Pyro Spectaculars will be responsible for the “complete installation and cleanup of the display and supplying all necessary material in connection therewith.”

Fireworks will not be allowed to be directly attached “to natural stone, vegetation, or infrastructure unless expressly permitted by the NPS (National Park Service).”

The monument will close at noon July 3. The event begins at 4 p.m. and will include performances by Native American artists, an appearance from the South Dakota State University concert choir and the United States Air Force Academy concert band, as well as many other talented people. Flyovers in partnership with the United State Air Force will also take place.

The fireworks display will take place between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 pm. The event will end at 10p.m and the monument will reopen on July 4.

“There’s truly no better place to celebrate America’s birthday,” Noem said. “We’re excited that (President Donald Trump) is coming to enjoy the show with us. He and the Department of the Interior have been great partners in bringing this celebration back to our great state and the entire nation.”

The event planning committee does not expect photo or greeting opportunities to be available with the president.

The event was open to 7,500 attendees who were chosen by a lottery system. The cost to enter the lottery was $1, and the event is otherwise free for chosen participants. The parking fee will be waived on July 3 for lottery winners.

Ticket holders will be randomly assigned into two zones. Zone 1 viewers will be seated in the amphitheater area or on the Grand View Terrace. Zone 2 viewers must provide their own seats and takes place along Highway 244 within the Memorial.

According to the Travel South Dakota website, “Beginning at Horsethief Lake, Highway 244 west of Mount Rushmore will be closed at midnight on July 3 and will remain closed until after the fireworks event and fire and security sweep are completed. Hwy. 244 east of Mount Rushmore will be closed at the junction of Highway 16A on midnight of July 3 and reopen for ticket holders the day of the event.”

Rich Zacher from the South Dakota Department of Transportation adds, “All ticketed guests for the fireworks will enter Mt. Rushmore Memorial on the east side (at the junction with U.S. 16A) beginning at 3 p.m. (South Dakota Highway 244) will be open to traffic once all of the ticketed guests have departed and be open as usual on July 4.”

Locals and tourists should prepare for long delays and congestion in the immediate area surrounding the monument. A June 15 parking planning meeting will include Keystone city officials.

At the July 3 event, no social distancing measures will be put in place.

“We’re doing everything we can to make this a safe and fun event for attendees,” Hagen said.

How to attend

You must have a ticket to attend the fireworks. Attendance was managed through a lottery system hosted at which ran June 5-8.

Zone 1

This zone covers the interior areas of the park that have a view of the memorial, which includes the amphitheater, the Grand View Terrace and the terrace outside the restaurant. There will be 500 general ticket winners. Each ticket includes space for six people and one parking space.

Zone 2

This zone is on the exterior of the park and will include seating areas (bring your own lawn chair) in the gravel lot across the highway from the parking ramp, and some seating areas along a closed lane of Hwy. 244.

Three will be jumbo screens in this zone so attendees can see the programming taking place in the amphitheater. There will be 591 general ticket winners. Each ticket includes space for six people and one parking space. These guests will park either in the parking ramp or in angled parking spots along Hwy. 244.

Zone 2 Shuttle Service

There will be 160 general ticket winners. Each ticket includes space for six people, and shuttle service from Keystone. These guests will park outside the memorial grounds and will be shuttled up the mountain. Seating area will be in Zone 2.

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