Thousands of people, many waving hand-painted signs and American flags, held tax day "tea parties" Wednesday in Las Vegas and Carson City as part of a nationwide movement to protest what they consider excessive government spending.
At Sunset Park, an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 people gathered to hear speakers and express their views. Demonstrators along Eastern Avenue and Sunset Road attracted a stream of honks from passing traffic throughout the afternoon.
"There's a lot of anger, but there's a lot of positive anger," said Jack Landreth, program director for KXNT-AM, 840 radio. "There are people who want to be heard and make a difference, and this gave them the opportunity to do that."
The radio station promoted the event, which featured speeches from Herman Cain, a FOX News business commentator and host of a radio talk show in Atlanta, and Wayne Allyn Root, the 2008 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee and a Las Vegas sports handicapper.
Although billed as a nonpartisan event, the messages from participants were largely anti-Obama, and Democrats were hard to find. Many protesters carried signs with the "tea party" slogan: Taxed Enough Already.
Las Vegas resident Jennean Scacco, a 55-year-old Republican, sat in a chair along Eastern Avenue holding a "Stop Spending" sign with a tea bag wrapper attached to it.
"I learned long ago that when you find yourself in a hole, you should stop digging," said Scacco, who works as a senior account technician for the city of Las Vegas. "Unfortunately, those we elected have not figured that out yet. They just think spending is going to get us out of this problem."
Scacco said she disagrees with those who say Americans should refuse to file income tax returns.
"I'm a law-abiding citizen, but I want them to use my tax money wisely," she said.
Las Vegas resident Ryan Kissling, 26, said he learned about the Sunset Park event through the social-networking Web site Facebook and decided to take the afternoon off from his job as a trade development manager at Monster Energy, a company that makes energy drinks.
Kissling, a Republican, stood along Eastern holding a sign that read, "Look 2 the Constitution Not Karl Marx."
"I'm tired of the government getting so big," he said.
Kissling said he was glad he decided to attend.
"It makes me have hope again," he said.
Mary and Tom Meyers, a married couple from Las Vegas, spent three hours demonstrating. They are both Republicans.
Mary Meyers, a 49-year-old cocktail server, carried a sign that read, "No: Socialism. No: Bailouts. Flat Tax!"
Her husband, a 45-year-old bartender, held a sign that read, "When is big government too much?"
"We want our message heard," Mary Meyers said. "We're afraid of the direction our country's going. We fear we're headed toward socialism."
Although the gathering was mostly peaceful, a heated exchange broke out between protesters and a passer-by who told them to "go home."
One protester shouted back, "Show us your green card."
"Green card?" said the man, who was a passenger in a vehicle. "I was born in America."
Protesters swore at the man as the vehicle drove away.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered for a smaller evening "tea party" at the main post office on Sunset Road. The post office was open until midnight to accommodate last-minute tax filers.
Las Vegas resident Elizabeth Broils, 30, was there with her 13-year-old daughter, Kristina, who wore a pilgrim costume, and her 8-year-old son, Joseph, who wore an Indian costume.
Broils said the costumes symbolize the time of America's forefathers and the revolution they began.
"If we have to start another revolution, these will be the kids to do it," she said.
In Carson City, an angry crowd of 2,000 demanded that legislators not increase taxes and condemned President Barack Obama's economic stimulus and spending plans in a protest outside the Legislative Building.
Legislative police and Carson City sheriff's deputies said the gathering was the largest they had seen in more than 30 years in the state capital.
"You are doing exactly what needs to be done on tax day," Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., told the crowd. He said Obama's spending plans have added $250,000 in debt for each of his four children.
Janine Hansen, a longtime lobbyist for the conservative, pro-family Nevada Eagle Forum, said she believes the sentiment of the protesters reflects current thinking of mainstream Americans.
While acknowledging that FOX News and local conservative talk show hosts had urged people to attend the protest, Hansen said people had to have strong objections to government to take time off work and drive to Carson City for a rally.
But few, if any, of the protesters wandered inside the Legislative Building after the three-hour demonstration to watch legislators who were voting on dozens of bills.
An older Carson City couple, Robert and Dwanna Dempsey, said too many people believe the government should give them cradle-to-grave support.
They said they were not just blaming Obama, but many politicians who over the years supported deficit spending.
"We need to clean out all the politicians," Dwanna Dempsey added. "They don't listen."
In response to the "tea party" gatherings, Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan released the following statement Wednesday:
"While we support the right of Americans to petition their government, what's clear is that the overwhelming majority of folks support President Obama's plan to get the economy back on track and provide 95 percent of working families with tax relief, because they are no longer going to accept 'more of the same' as an answer."