The christening of the USS South Dakota (SSN 790) fast attack submarine this weekend will include at least two links to Sturgis.
On Saturday, a flag was flown over Harley-Davidson Rally Point in Sturgis and carried to Sioux Falls to be taken to the ceremony aboard a new 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide.
Also, when the USS South Dakota’s sponsor, Deanie Dempsey, smashes the bottle of sparkling wine on its bow during the christening, it will be a wine from the Belle Joli Sparkling House in Sturgis.
Choi Jackson said members of the commissioning committee contacted the winery last spring about supplying the sparkling wine for the christening.
Choi and her husband, Matthew, are co-owners of Belle Joli along with Matthew's parents, John and Patty Jackson.
"They were looking for a South Dakota-made product they could use and they chose us," she said. "They were excited to learn that the grapes used to make the product are grown in Belle Fourche and that we are 100 percent South Dakota made."
The group chose Belle Joli's 2013 Estate Reserve Brut Sparkling Wine for the christening.
"We're very honored for this opportunity," Choi Jackson said.
Dempsey is the wife of the former Joint Chief of Staff. She was also on hand for the keel laying ceremony last spring.
The christening, slated for 11 a.m. Saturday in Groton, Conn., is an important tradition and a monumental day for all involved – similar ceremonies have been practiced since our country’s inception, with former First Ladies and numerous other notable women sponsoring ships and participating in the festivities.
After the boat is christened, it will begin sea trials, where crew members will perform rigorous tests to ensure it’s ready to officially join the Navy’s fleet.
The flag ceremony Saturday in Sturgis began the journey by a group of motorcyclists, lead by retired U.S. Navy Commander Wiley Cress of Rapid City, to Sioux Falls by way of Pierre, Aberdeen, and Groton. The riders delivered the flag to J&L Harley-Davidson in Sioux Falls on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 8.
The flag was featured as part of the ceremony to unveil the USS SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN 790) Commemorative 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide at J&L Harley-Davidson in Sioux Falls.The motorcycle was donated by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company to help celebrate the state’s new U.S. Navy submarine and honor South Dakota’s motorcycle heritage.
J&L Harley-Davidson is the sponsoring dealership for the 2018 Street Glide and has also donated parts and labor for the project. The motorcycle features custom paint honoring Battleship SOUTH DAKOTA (BB 57) and commemorates the new Submarine SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN 790). Artist Mickey Harris of Menno created the custom motorcycle artwork.
The U.S. Flag was placed in the saddlebag of the USS SOUTH DAKOTA (SSN 790) Commemorative 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide at the conclusion of the motorcycle unveiling ceremony and will then be transported via enclosed trailer to Groton, CT for the christening ceremony of the USS SOUTH DAKOTA, on Saturday.