July 4 events start July 2

The U.S. will celebrate its independence Sunday, but Custer will celebrate for three days as the full slate of activities returns to the city’s July 4 celebration.
The fun starts Friday, July 2, with the Old Time Country 4th arts and crafts fair at the 1881 Courthouse Museum. The fair will open at 10 a.m. and run until 6 p.m.
The fair returns Saturday, July 3, again from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. That day marks the start of the children’s fair at Way Park beginning at noon and running until 4 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will include bouncy houses, face painting and more.
A large slate of activities is scheduled for July 4, which will again begin with the craft fair from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The children’s fair will reopen at Way Park at 11 a.m. and last until 4 p.m..
At 10 a.m. that day is the Kids’ Parade, which will be immediately followed by the Patriots’ Parade in downtown Custer. The parade will run down Mt. Rushmore Road from 8th Street to 2nd Street. The parades will be kicked off by a flyover b­--y a B-1 Bomber from Ellsworth Air Force Base.
July 4 will also feature “Patriot Alley,” a one-stop shop for veterans to get information on all services available to them. It will be located at the intersection of Mt. Rushmore Road and N. 6th Street. It will open immediately following the parades and run until 4 p.m.
Entities scheduled to be on hand at Patriot Alley are Custer County Veteran Service Officer Todd Fish, S.D. Department of Veterans Affairs, S.D. Department of Veterans Affairs Mobile Vets Center, Veterans Affairs Crisis Outreach, Veterans Affairs Mobile Benefits Outreach,Veteran Upward Bound Education representative, Midwest Honor Flights, Crazy Horse Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, Custer VFW Post 3442, Custer American Legion Post 46 and recruiting stations for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The latter may also participate in the Patriots’ Parade and flag lowering/raising ceremony.
Patriot Alley will feature the “Patriot Dog” stand, where visitors may purchase hot dogs, chips and a drink. The stand will operate from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. or until the food is gone.
The annual flag raising/lowering ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. and will be preceded by the landing of a S.D. National Guard Black Hawk helicopter in the grassy space next to Custer Veterans Memorial. The heliocopter will deliver the flag to be used in the flag raising and will remain parked in the grassy area next to the memorial until around 1 p.m. (as long as it is not needed) for visitors to view and ask questions of the crew. The helicopter will be landed by Custer’s own Dean Suelflow, a  Major in the National Guard. This new part of the weekend was brought about by the Veterans Memorial Association and the City of Custer, spearheaded by local veteran Jim Hattervig.
The flag lowering will include  Hattervig reading “This Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash and a rendition of “America the Beautiful” by Lea Anne McWhorter. There will be a reading of the meaning of each fold of the flag and a 21-gun salute will be followed by the playing of Taps  to retire the colors.
Following the flag retirement the raising of a new flag will take place, as will a salute to veterans. The flag-raising ceremony will feature presentation of the flag, Hattervig reading “In Harm’s Way” and Heather Grace singing the National Anthem, followed by closing remarks by Hattervig. Everyone is invited to help lower and raise the flag.
As always, the celebration will conclude with the annual fireworks show, which is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the City of Custer and Custer Volunteer Fire Department. The fireworks are set to begin around 9:30 p.m. at Pageant Hill.

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