July 4th, Mount Rushmore Style
As most of you might know, I live in Nebraska. What you might not know, however, is that I live just a short drive from Mount Rushmore.
July 4th is celebrated across the country with everything from cookouts to parades to my personal favorite, “Barnyard Bingo.” During a parade, the town numbers blocks on the route and sells chances. If a horse in the parade “plops” on your block, you win money!
At Mount Rushmore, however, they take July 4th a bit more serious, and with a touch of pomp and circumstance. This year, like at many places, there will not be fireworks. This is due in part to budget cuts, but also because the Black Hills region is suffering extreme drought conditions. Don’t worry though, there is plenty still going on.
The celebration at Mount Rushmore starts at 9:30am on July 3rd with professional re-enactors portraying the four presidents memorialized on the mountain: Carl Closs as George Washington, Tom Pitz as Thomas Jefferson, Fritz Klein as Abraham Lincoln and Gib Young as Theodore Roosevelt. The presidents will be available for questions, delivering programs, participating in a Presidential Press Conference and signing autographs.
During the day there will be performances by singer-songwriter/Park Ranger Jeff Wolin, traditional hoop dancing by world champion hoop dancer Jasmine Pickner (who will teach hoop dancing classes for the children), and children’s performer Phil Baker who will perform on the Grand View Terrace.
In the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota Heritage Village, Native flutist Sequoia Crosswhite will be portraying native stories and playing flute for guests.
At 6pm, the very best part of the day starts. The National Park Service will host the Rapid City, South Dakota Municipal Band as they perform in the main amphitheater. This will be followed by a flag folding ceremony featuring the Ellsworth Air Force Base (EAFB) Honor Guard, and a military recruit oath of enlistment delivered by EAFB commander, Colonel Kevin Kennedy. The night will end with the lighting of the presidential sculpture while the crowd is led in singing the National Anthem.
On July 4th, the presidential reenactors will be back, starting at 10:30am, and the traditional evening lighting ceremony will start at 9pm in the main amphitheater.
Visiting Mount Rushmore is something everyone should do at least once, and this holiday seems like the perfect day to introduce yourself to the monument. Parking costs $11.00 a car, and the parking permit is good for the rest of the year.
I’m been to the park many times, so I’m considering driving up into the Black Hills to Custer State Park in the evening on July 3rd, to watch the statues light up from a nearby mountain. Hope you can join me.
Happy Fourth of July.
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com