The thousands of people who gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. parade downtown Monday morning were helping to realize a dream.
"This just showed how people can get together and live out the name of Dr. King," said Justin Harper, parade chairman. "It's just remarkable to have people come out from all different races and celebrate his legacy."
Families of all ethnicities were standing next to one another, cheering and clapping for the same thing. The parade's theme was Living the Dream: Setting new Heights in our Community, and for a few hours, downtown Las Vegas was a melting pot of culture as group after group walked down Fourth Street smiling, waving and performing.
The event turned momentarily chaotic when a teenager fired a gun into the air at Fourth and Fremont streets. No one was seriously injured, but the gunshots caused hundreds of people to scatter for cover.
As if to punctuate King's dream of racial equality, the parade came two days after Nevada's caucuses, when voters had the opportunity to support the first black candidate who has a legitimate chance at becoming president.
But support for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who is in a tight race with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, does not necessarily come from the fact he is black, said those attending the parade.
"It's not just a race thing. It's about standing up for what's right, and that's what Dr. King was about," Harper said. "We're at a point in this world where we need someone to turn it around."
"Whether it's Barack or Hillary or whoever," he said.
In King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, the civil rights activist spoke of a time when people would "not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
"This election isn't only for the blacks, it's for everybody," parade attendee Edward Hayes said. "We're trying to do things for the whole United States."
Hayes has been in Las Vegas since 1962 and has seen the effect people such as King have had.
"We have witnessed a lot of change," Hayes said. "And not just here in Las Vegas, but everywhere."
Obama's next political test will be Saturday in South Carolina, where polls show he holds a double-digit lead over Clinton.
"It means a lot," attendee Earnest Chambers said. "It's hard enough to get a job for some black people, let alone run for president.
"There's still racism," Chambers said. "But it's less of a problem. I think (Obama) running is good, even if he doesn't get elected."
Parade-goer Cynthia Troffo said his candidacy shows "we've come a long way.
"Ten years ago, I don't think he would have lasted a week," she said.
Contact reporter Scott Spjut at email@example.com or (702) 383-0279.