Keystone business owner reacts to potential Mount Rushmore fireworks celebration

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 6:30 PM CST
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KEYSTONE, S.D. (KOTA) - Last year, the Independence Day fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore returned for the first time in years. The event brought in thousands of people into the Black Hills, effectively impacting the Keystone economy, but also drawing backlash and protests due to concerns over the environment, COVID-19 spread, and indigenous land rights.

But the celebration could be called off by President Joe Biden’s appointee for Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, but Governor Kristi Noem wants to make sure the sparks keep flying.

The governor sent three letters to Representative Dusty Johnson, Senator Mike Rounds, and Senator John Thune asking for their assistance in communicating the significance of the event.

According to Noem, visitors spent $2 million dollars in South Dakota as a result of the fireworks celebration on July 3, 2020 which resulted in $160,000 dollars in tax revenues for state and local governments.

Owner of Rushmore Destinations, Tim Johnson, says the celebration helped his business out immensely amidst the pandemic.

”As you know with the pandemic last year we were hit incredibly hard, it’s the worst thing to ever hit our industry and brought us to our knees,” says Johnson. “When the fireworks were announced that they were coming back to Mount Rushmore, it created a buzz and got people excited.”

Johnson says his business was fully booked for the July 4th weekend and hopes they continue the celebration.

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