Say it ain't so, Joe: National Park Service nixes July Fourth fireworks at Mount Rushmore

The National Park Service (NPS) denied a request from South Dakota’s tourism department for a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore to celebrate Independence Day this year. NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost put the kibosh on any such plan by citing “concerns” due to the pandemic and also the potential of harm to the site.

What a load of malarkey. Weren’t we promised the ability to celebrate the Fourth of July by Grandpa Joe during his address to the nation Thursday night? The President of Normalcy said if we continue to wash our hands and wear face masks like good boys and girls right now, we can get together with other humans to watch fireworks and have barbecues. Did Mr. Frost skip Biden’s speech? Unfortunately, I did not and Biden used the carrot of a decent Fourth of July celebration with family and friends to soften the stick of cracking down on pandemic mitigation measures until more people are vaccinated. Do as I say now or else I’ll lock us all down again.

“If we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” the president said.

According to a story in the Washington Examiner, Frost’s letter of denial says that NPS is “unable to grant a request to have fireworks at the Memorial.”

“Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event,” Frost wrote.

In NPS’s letter Friday, Frost cited limited attendance requirements at the 2020 celebration, at which Trump delivered a speech, affected “tens of thousands” who could not visit the memorial or had their visit cut short. He also noted a construction project slated for completion this summer as a reason for not hosting a celebration this year.

Riddle me this, though – weren’t limited attendance requirements already in place because of the pandemic, therefore already “affecting tens of thousands” of people who may have wanted to visit the memorial? Trump’s decision to limit the attendance to the 2020 celebration should be used as a template for this year, right? If NPS is bowing to Team Biden, then an even smaller crowd could be allowed to view it in person. Everyone else could watch on television but the event could still go on. National parks limit the flow of visitors because of social distancing mandates in place and those haven’t eased up yet. In other words, precautions are already being made and there is no reason to think a limited amount of visitors can’t be safely accommodated. By July a great number of people will have been vaccinated.

Last year the NPS gave the ok to fireworks and Air Force jets providing a show for the public. NPS said there would not be a significant environmental impact from the fireworks. That was then and this is now. A new president is in the White House and quickly undoing everything possible from how the Trump administration worked. This move by NPS really reeks of petty partisanship. Frost hides behind the claim that local tribes oppose fireworks at Mount Rushmore. The Oglala Sioux president has called for the removal of Mount Rushmore – is that the next move from the Biden administration?

Governor Noem, a Republican who has bucked the federal coronavirus mandates, will pursue a celebration at the site.

Ian Fury, the communications director for Noem, responded to NPS’s letter Friday, saying, “Governor Noem will do everything in her ability to ensure that we can celebrate America’s birthday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore.”

He added: “President Biden wants this Independence Day to mark ‘our independence from this virus.’ The best place to do that would be Mount Rushmore.”

Let’s face it – the crowd came to see Trump last year. If Team Biden is putting a stranglehold on this year’s event, they don’t have to worry about that. There will be no magnet of such a personlity there this year. Biden won’t be there and even if he was there, he doesn’t attract big crowds. Last year 7,500 tickets were issued. Event organizers could scale that number back if they are concerned about social distancing for an outdoor celebration. Fireworks at Mount Rushmore are not a new thing, by the way. Mount Rushmore hosted 11 fireworks displays from 1998 to 2011, and then again last year. Some years the fireworks have been canceled due to wildfires, as happened in 2002, 2010, and 2011.

Seeing a fireworks display with the backdrop of Mount Rushmore seems like a great way to celebrate Independence Day.