Sioux Falls, SD
Each year, cities across the United States celebrate the country's independence with a day full of events that ends with a fireworks display.
For Sioux Falls, planning for the next year's festivities begins almost as soon as the fireworks show is over.
"You can't beat it, it's a great day and it's just a great way to show your patriotism," recreations manager Alicia Luther said.
Next week is the biggest celebration of red, white, and blue for the entire year, and Sioux Falls is getting ready. From a picnic at the Falls to the evening fireworks, there is certainly something for everyone to enjoy.
"We want people to have something to do all day long, and so for those that aren't venturing out to the lake, you can have a full day of activities here in Sioux Falls, which is wonderful," Luther said.
The first part of the day is packed full of major events. The 4th of July festivities begin with a walk/run at Falls Park, followed by a parade along Phillips Avenue, a picnic back at the park and a number of musical and theatrical performances. It's a long list of activities that starts to come together almost a year earlier.
"We really start after the last year's event. We survey everybody and we kind of find out what went well, what didn't, what do we want to change, what do we want to improve," Luther said.
By January, the list of possible activities is condensed and the work of putting it all together begins.
"As a committee, we'll sit down and say 'Ok, do we think we can make that work or is that a little to grandiose?' or 'How will that fit into the timeline?' We don't want to keep people too long, either, because we know that they want to gear up and go to other activities like the fireworks show and things like that," Luther said.
What happens in the morning is the perfect segway into what happens at night.
"The Sioux Falls Jaycees 4th of July fireworks event has been going on for about 47 years, and I'm excited to be involved this year. The fireworks, of course, are a part of it, but in addition, there are a bunch of events for kids leading up to it," co-chair John Small said.
All of the evening events will be at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds, including a 20-minute fireworks display done in unison with a collection of patriotic music.
"You always want to make it better than last year, and I'm really excited to get to help put the music together for this year. I can tell you this, it's made a grown man cry, actually two of them. It's very emotional and it should be really, really nice," Small said.
Once that's finished, a movie will be played at the fairgrounds to help eliminate any traffic congestion. In total, the evening displays will cost anywhere between $40,000-$45,000, but thanks to major sponsors and individual donations, that goal should be reached in plenty of time.
"I've lived in about five different communities in the Midwest. Every community has had a 4th of July celebration. This is the biggest community I've ever lived in, so in my mind it means it should be the biggest celebration," Small said.
The biggest of celebrations that takes almost a year to put together.
"We'll relax on the 5th of July," Small said.
"We want it to go off without a hitch. So, we'll be working up until the day just making sure that everybody has everything in line," Luther.
All the work that results in a major salute to our freedom.
"I want them to remember a really good time with their family and their friends, and the nice thing is it's free, so there's no excuse not to come out," Small said.
Entries for the parade and donations to the fireworks display are still being accepted. If you would like to learn more about either of those events, you can visit the Fireworks In Sioux Falls website and the City of Sioux Falls parade website.
Eye on KELOLAND