Holidays have a way of linking us to the past and connecting us to the future, and the Fourth of July is no exception. Independence Day brings generations together. The food and fanfare are pretty great, but the company makes it even greater.

“My family has always gotten together on the Fourth,” says Ami Scull-Larson, who delights in carrying on the traditions she enjoyed as a child with her children. This Rapid City mom of three fondly recalls hanging out with family on her grandparents’ lawn along the Elks Golf Course.

“All the cousins played all day and let off fireworks—it was out of city limits then—and then we had a big feast and all gathered to watch the fireworks.”

Ami follows in those festive footsteps by opening her home to family and friends every Fourth of July. She and her husband, Nathan, invite guests to come for tasty fare and fun games and stay for the fireworks at Arrowhead Country Club.

“We have the grill hot, and everyone brings an all-American dish to share,” she says. There’s a build-your-own sundae bar to top it all off. Nathan’s late grandfather used to make homemade ice cream for dessert, and now he carries on the sweet custom. The best part about traditions is making them your own, so Ami, Nathan, and their kids recently put a new spin on an old Fourth of July staple: they started their own Independence Day parade with the neighbors.

“It’s a new tradition but super fun,” Ami says.

Children and adults wearing red, white, and blue wend their way through the neighborhood on bikes, toy motorized vehicles, a golf cart, and an ATV decorated in American flags, streamers, and bunting. It’s short and sweet, but it’s just enough. And in this season of limited social gatherings, a neighborhood parade may be just what you and your crew need to celebrate without a crowd.

For some Rapid City families, the sweetest Fourth of July memories are made at the ball field.

Jon and Kelly Bachman can think of no better way to celebrate the nation’s independence than by cheering on their baseball-loving boy. Eighteen-year-old Ryan Bachman plays for the Rapid City Post 22 Hardhats, and one of the team’s favorite contests plays out before the hometown crowd at Fitzgerald Stadium over Independence Day weekend. The annual Camping World Firecracker Tournament brings in teams from across the nation for a six-day round robin tournament that includes a fireworks display. It’s hard to separate the Bachmans’ Independence Day celebrations from baseball, but Kelly wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s a whirlwind, but it’s been our life the last few years,” she says.

Ami agrees. Families thrive on shared memories, and if she ever took a timeout from tradition on the Fourth, she’d hear about it. Nine-year-old Hunter, eight-year-old Aspen, and five-year-old Vale look forward to the things that bring their clan together on Independence Day.

“My kids know all the little traditions,” she says, adding that even as her trio gets older, “they still really cling to them. They’ve become an important part of our family map.”

That’s why you’re sure to find generations gathering throughout the Black Hills to grill up some fun, watch a few games, and wait for something brilliant to light up the night sky.

written by Danie Koskan