If you've enjoyed the fireworks displays that have been part of the Fourth of July celebrations at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the past, take a long look at the accompanying photo, for officials there have decided to do away with the fireworks.
Superintendent Cheryl Schreier says planning already is under way for next year's Independence Day Celebration at Mount Rushmore. And she adds that the successful outcomes from the 2010 and 2011 celebrations, along with continued resource concerns, have prompted the Park Service to configure the 2012 celebration on the same model, one that will not include a fireworks component.
More than 21,000 people visited the memorial on July 3 in 2011, exceeding the 2009 and 2010 numbers, according to officials there. The event model of the past two years has allowed all visitors an opportunity to enjoy the memorial on July 3, and event planners were pleased that no visitors had to be turned away, as was common in previous years, they added.
The risk of wildfire prompted the suspension of the fireworks for the 2010 and 2011 celebrations. Efforts are on-going throughout the Black Hills to combat the mountain pine beetle infestations and reduce fire danger. However, memorial officials say, the condition of the forest in the surrounding area continues to deteriorate and will remain a concern for the foreseeable future.
“Mount Rushmore has successfully proven they can provide an outstanding July 3 celebration, in collaboration with Black Hills communities that can safely offer fireworks shows,” said Park Service Regional Director Michael Reynolds. “The Park Service is committed to being responsible stewards of the land, as well as responsible neighbors, and to do that we need to take every conceivable precaution to mitigate the fire danger.
"Providing a celebration without fireworks for the 2012 Independence Day Celebration is the prudent course of action,” added the regional director.
It is expected that the 2012 celebration will again offer a schedule of events that highlight patriotism, cultural celebrations of American heritage, and features the true meaning of Independence Day, while at the same time protecting the park’s resources and encouraging visitor safety. Once again, park officials will collaborate with surrounding communities and organizations to plan and promote events available throughout the Black Hills over the July 4 holiday.
Additional information about the 2012 celebration will be available in the coming months.