The marching bands and the cheerleaders, the fire engines and the street-vendor vuvuzelas. All incredibly noisy.
Which is appropriate because that's how you know what has become important to us: those things we make the most noise about.
The noise started before 8 a.m. Monday. On Fourth Street in downtown Las Vegas. On the side streets. The parking lots.
The 29th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade was all about noise.
Parade officials couldn't be reached late Monday, but the crowd numbered in the thousands. More than 150 floats were scheduled.
Roberta Newell is glad that the parade has become such a big deal. King, who was assassinated in 1968, was a great man, she said, and folks should be making a big deal about his legacy.
"It's kind of amazing to think that one person had all this momentum behind him," she said. "To think that one person had all this influence."
Newell, 64, was a teen in Bristol, Pa., when King was gaining a national following. She remembers being puzzled by the civil rights leader's message of nonviolence. She said she was more likely to wish ill upon you if you wished ill upon her.
"We believed if somebody hit you, you were supposed to hit back," she said.
Like one time when she was visiting her grandmother in Georgia. The Ku Klux Klan had surrounded the house, she said.
"The only reason they didn't burn down the house was because my uncle had guns," she said.
Her uncle fired a shotgun into the ground as a warning.
Newell's husband, Ray, 71, grew up in Alabama. He remembers how it was. He was a teenager when Rosa Parks made her stand. He would get so angry. Sometimes he wanted to lash out. But he couldn't. He might've been hurt, even killed.
That's frustrating, to be helpless against a tide of wrongdoing. Ray was a Marine. He said the Corps had been desegregated officially, not unofficially. He felt he could never get ahead because some of the wrong people were in charge.
King, he said, helped changed that. The world isn't perfect, but it's better than it used to be.
Nowadays, it doesn't matter if you're black and you want to be a TV news anchor. Or a firefighter. Even a high-ranking member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Whatever.
Things have changed. Anybody can pretty much be anything they want, if they're good enough and they work hard. That's the new normal.
As if to underscore the point, the parade began just then. Floats and those marching bands, the cheerleaders and the politicians. All making noise.
There was U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, waving from a convertible Mustang. There were the brown and black and white kids from Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, clad in matching T-shirts, no difference among them.
There was Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, walking, and then riding in a convertible was Michael Douglas, who recently became the first black chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court.
And then there was the float for Kermit R. Booker Elementary, which sits on Martin Luther King Boulevard. This is a school that, a couple decades ago, was one of the so-called sixth-grade centers. Back then, the local desegregation policy had the kids from the black neighborhoods bused into the white neighborhoods every year except during sixth grade. That year, and that year alone, the white kids were bused to the black neighborhoods.
Booker is just a regular neighborhood elementary school now.
Those little kids, they probably had no idea of King's importance. Which is why we have a parade in his honor. To teach them.
That's why Ernie and Jeniece Rideout brought Jeniece's 2-year-old grandniece with them.
Ernie, 57, and Jeniece, 55, said they come to the parade every year. It's important to honor King, and it's just as important to teach the kids about him. The more noise we make about him, the more the kids will realize his importance.
This world that they live in, the one they will inherit from us, is a better world than the one King tried so hard to change, they said.
Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.