RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) – Mount Rushmore National Memorial is closed today as it prepares for its first fireworks show since 2009 tonight, an event that drew over 160,000 requests for the 7,500 tickets allowed and that will feature President Trump in attendance.
The park reopens for only those ticketed guests at 1:30 and will remain closed to the general public until 5:00 tomorrow morning. The program begins at 4:00 with ticket holders already receiving parking instructions. They must be in by 6:00 pm because all security checkpoints close at that time.
When President Donald Trump speaks at Mount Rushmore this afternoon, he’ll stand before a crowd of people who won’t be required to socially distance or wear masks despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Based on the President’s usual behavior, he won’t wear a mask but South Dakota Republican U-S Senator Mike Rounds will. Rounds was asked about it by a constituent on a tele-town Hall on Tuesday and said he was going to use “some good old South Dakota common sense.”
The former governor, who has supported Trump on over 92% of his votes, says he’ll participate but will “do our best to keep some social distancing the best we can”, adding that wearing a mask in crowds can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and show “common South Dakota courtesy.”
South Dakota Governor Krist Noem made national headlines when she said about the celebration, QUOTE “We won’t be social distancing.”
Public health experts have warned of the risk that the gathering could help spread COVID-19, and those warnings have grown more emphatic from some since the announcement that neither masks nor social distancing will be required.