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South Dakota Celebrates 124th Birthday



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A big birthday is being celebrated all across the state. On November 2, South Dakota officially became a state 124 years ago. Instead of blowing out more than 100 candles, the town of Yankton went back in time for the day.

From horse drawn-carriages to costumes, Yankton residents appeared to be partying like it was 1889.

"Yankton was the capital of Dakota Territory for its first 11 years {before South Dakota became a state,}” said historian and celebration committee member Crystal Nelson.

It's only natural that South Dakota's 124th birthday and the kickoff to its 125th Anniversary be celebrated in Yankton.

"I did the research and everything. I helped come up with historical costumes and gave everyone as much information as I could for accuracy,” said Nelson.

The streets are lined with historical characters that were alive around the time South Dakota became a state.

That included Former President Theodore Roosevelt.

"Roosevelt first came to Yankton when he was running for Vice President," said Theodore Roosevelt impersonator, Nathan Johnson.

He traveled to Yankton in 1900 and 1903. On both occasions he gave a speech on the same street on the corner of Walnut and Third Street.

"The one he gave Yankton is not online, but I found one he gave in Aberdeen that talked about citizenship," said Johnson.

Then there's Jack McCall. He made the state famous for other reasons. In 1876, he shot and killed Wild Bill Hickok in Deadwood, but the story ends in Yankton.

"The Yankton authorities had him brought back here and tried him with a real trial and had him guilty, said Jack McCall impersonator, Paul Lowrie.

The famous McCall was hanged in Yankton.

"The neat thing is he is buried in Yankton at an unknown grave," said Lowrie.

Both good and bad, South Dakota residents take a trip back in time, celebrating where it all began.

"It's neat to have a visual of the history, you read about it but to try to make it live and real that way is kind of special," said Lowrie.

North Dakota also joined the union November 2. It became the 30th state and South Dakota the 40th. The celebration continued in Yankton Saturday, complete with a ball accompanied by an orchestra.


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