- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2020

Fireworks will sizzle and pop over the stone faces at Mount Rushmore for the first time in over a decade this July 3, says the state’s governor.

Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, announced new details on Thursday that fireworks would go ahead as scheduled with limited seating awarded through a lottery. Questions had risen in recent weeks whether the plan to launch fireworks off at the Mount Rushmore National monument might be stymied by environmental or health concerns, given the novel coronavirus’s spread into western South Dakota and the Black Hills.

But the show will go on. There will be no social distancing measures in place, and attendees are encouraged to stay home if sick, said state officials.

“Following months of planning, Im pleased to announce our specific plans for Mount Rushmore Fireworks on July 3,” said Ms. Noem, in a statement to press.

She also confirmed that President Trump will attend.

“We’re excited that President Trump is coming to enjoy the show with us,” said Ms. Noem, who said the state had worked “tirelessly” with the National Parks Service and the Department of the Interior to organize details.

Fireworks over the popular mountain ended in 2009, after concerns grew over forest fires sparked by the embers of fireworks. NPS completed an environment assessment in preparation for this year’s event.

A state tourism official welcomed the return of the fireworks — which typically drew tens of thousands of people.

“Now more than ever, South Dakota and our nation need something to look forward to,” said Jim Hagen, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, “and we can’t think of a better event than celebrating our nation’s independence at Mount Rushmore National Monument.”

The lottery will award seats for 7,500 persons from across the country, said Ms. Noem. The lottery is at Recreation.gov. It opens Friday morning at 10 a.m. Eastern and runs until Monday at midnight.

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