Fireworks will be back to illuminate the night sky and the colossal sculptures at Mount Rushmore during next year’s Fourth of July, the governor of South Dakota announced on May 7.
“We are excited and honored to see fireworks return to our nation’s Shrine of Democracy,” Governor Kristi Noem said in a statement. “There is no more fitting place in all the nation to celebrate our democracy than from Mount Rushmore.”
Noem said that the agreement was a result of months of meetings and discussions.
If you’ve ever attended Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore, you’ll know why so many people are excited by this news. And if you haven’t seen it, 2020 is your year. ????????????https://t.co/MRvY1oqbyv
— Senator John Thune (@SenJohnThune) May 7, 2019
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which sees over 2 million visitors a year, has discontinued fireworks for nearly a decade due to concerns of wildfires in the Black Hills Forests surrounding the memorial. The issue had been made worse in the combination of the declining health of the trees and pine beetle outbreaks.
The forest has since recovered after the epidemic affected at least 450,000 acres of woods—over a third of the 1.2 million acres of forest area.
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, and the governor jointly signed the memorandum of agreement (pdf) on Monday.
“I look forward to working with the State of South Dakota to restore a fireworks display at one of our nation’s great Memorials, which tells the story of the birth, growth, development, and preservation of this great country,” said Bernhardt.
The officials said that the firework shows hold symbolic significance to Mount Rushmore as a decades-long tradition to honor the founding fathers at the place where their faces are memorialized in the monumental carvings. It is also “an iconic backdrop for the enjoyment and education of a diverse local, national and international audience,” the memorandum states.
BREAKING>>Fireworks are coming back to Mount Rushmore starting with the 2020 Independence Day celebration! Grateful for @realDonaldTrump and @SecBernhardt’s help through this process. Let’s Make Fireworks Great Again!!https://t.co/NuXetXYX3t pic.twitter.com/NoyOCniGL9
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) May 7, 2019
“When the fireworks were previously held at Mount Rushmore, the show was beamed around the globe via satellite. The entire world was able to view a celebration of our nation’s freedoms from the majestic memorial and the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota,” Noem said.
President Trump also commended Noem and Bernhardt for bringing back the firework display on twitter.
“I am pleased to inform you that THE BIG FIREWORKS, after many years of not having any, are coming back to beautiful Mount Rushmore in South Dakota,” he wrote.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019
There is a long history of celebrations of American independence at Mount Rushmore, including fireworks displays from 1998 to 2009.
The fireworks show will take place on July 3, 4, or 5, according to the memorandum.