Some of our favorite 4th of July celebrations have been in small towns, and this year we were very fortunate to be in Custer, South Dakota, in time for their festivities which they call their Old Time Country 4th of July.
Custer town is nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the normally quiet streets were overflowing with visitors as the townspeople gathered for the parade.
There are loads of little tourist shops in town, and red-white-and-blue-wear was available in every style and every size.
The younger set were particularly fashionable.
We had arrived in Custer a few days earlier, and we had heard from everyone we met that Custer’s 4th of July celebration was very special. And they were so right. We got a huge kick out of it!
As people arrived with chairs in hand to stake out a spot along the parade route, an announcer got the crowd fired up on the front steps of the museum. He called on people in the crowd to find out where they were from. Lots of folks were from Utah, Arizona and Colorado, but there were people in town from North Carolina, New Hampshire and other far flung states as well.
The hallmark of Custer’s 4th of July parade is the kickoff when nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base, over in Rapid City, South Dakota, sends a B1 bomber right down the main drag for a flyover. What a rush! I got a video clip, but like the real thing, it’s over almost as soon as it starts!
The parade began with all the town kids dressed up in America’s colors riding their bikes. What a great idea!! From toddlers on balance bikes to little kids with training wheels to big kids zipping along on two-wheelers, they were all decked out. Some even had balloons.
Then Old Glory arrived followed by the Mayor carrying the Custer city flag, and soon after we saw Uncle Sam strolling past on stilts.
There were lots of cars and trucks including an old Fire Department Salvage Truck. The junior fire fighters put their fire hats on and plugged their ears as the big fire trucks drove by.
A snake oil salesman snuck into the parade, along with several vehicles honoring American veterans. Then a very cool old yellow truck went by with a huge flag representing a group that cares for disabled vets. We got a closer look at it after the parade was over as it drove back through town.
Later on, the day was capped off with a fantastic fireworks display.
The fireworks were shot off at Pageant Hill, but they could be seen from all over town. Before the fireworks began, the city’s fire trucks circled the town with sirens blaring. At first we thought something had gone wrong, but as people continued to arrive all around us and calmly set up their chairs to watch the fireworks, we realized the parade of fire trucks with lights and sirens whirring was all part of the show.
It seemed to take forever for darkness to fall, but at last the fireworks began. The show went on for a very long time and ended with a big finale. We had a blast taking photos…
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More info about Custer and its 4th of July festivities:
- Custer South Dakota 4th of July – Official Website
- Location of Custer, South Dakota – Interactive Google Maps
Other fun 4th of July celebrations, parades and fireworks:
- Fireworks on Canada Day in Nova Scotia
- An Unusual and Heartwarming Parade in Humboldt Kansas
- Parade and Party during “Carnival” in Ensenada Mexico
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