Old Time Country 4th starts Saturday

Jason Ferguson
Saturday is Independence Day across the country and the city of Custer will once again celebrate with several events Saturday, although somewhat scaled down because of COVID-19.
The fun will start at 10 a.m. with a B-1 flyover to start off the annual Children’s Parade, followed immediately by the Patriots’ Parade in downtown Custer.
In order to encourage spectators to spread out and maintain social distancing, the parade route has been extended to include Washington Street from 2nd to 5th streets and ending at the Veterans Memorial.
Custer Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Dolsee Davenport said the chamber encourages people to consider watching the parade from this new area and then be at the Veterans Memorial for the flag ceremonies that follow.
The flag-lowering ceremony will include Jim Hattervig reading “This Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash and a rendition of “America the Beautiful” by Jeanine Gould. Tom Burke will recite the meaning of each of the flag’s folds and a 21-gun salute will be followed by Sam Furse playing “Taps” to retire the colors.
Following the flag retirement, a new flag will be raised, with a salute to veterans. The flag-raising ceremony will feature presentation of the flag, Hattervig reading “In Harm’s Way,” Heather Grace singing the National Anthem, followed by closing remarks by Hattervig. Everyone is invited to help lower and raise the flag. 
Also following the Patriots’ Parade, area veterans can learn about benefits by heading to the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce parking lot, an event sponsored by Custer American Legion Post 46. There, a mobile veterans center will be set up, along with Midwest Honor Flight and the suicide prevention team from Ft. Meade.
Custer Volunteer Fire Department’s annual fireworks show will begin around 9:30 p.m. on Pageant Hill on 8th and Canal streets.
Custer County emergency management and first responders have a message for locals and visitors, as thousands of people are expected to visit Custer this holiday, particularly with the planned events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial July 3.
Custer County is committed to protecting the health, safety and well-being of its citizens and visitors, officials say, and ask for these guidelines to be followed: 
• Expect high traffic congestion before and after Mount Rushmore’s July 3 fireworks celebration. 
• Be prepared for multi-hour delays in entering and exiting Custer State Park and surrounding roads, especially Iron Mountain Road, Playhouse Road and the Sylvan Lake area. 
• If you park along Iron Mountain Road and Custer State Park roads, park vehicles completely off the roadway and not in tall grass. Any vehicles left unattended that impede traffic will be subject to tow.
• Be prepared for heat, humidity, rain or cold. Weather in the Black Hills can be unpredictable.  
• People will be in close contact for an extended amount of time. People are asked to safely distance according to state and federal health guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
• All fireworks and open fires are illegal in the Black Hills Fire Protection District.  

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