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Henderson hails its roots at annual Heritage Day

Cupcakes, games, balloons and plant potting were among the festivities Saturday at Henderson’s annual Heritage Day Parade and Festival.

The festival, which celebrates the city’s incorporation on April 16, 1953, drew thousands of attendees. Fifty groups, including the Henderson Rotary Club, the Henderson Historical Society, the Josh Stevens Foundation, Frontline Cheer and several local schools participated in the parade.

The city was originally a township built around a magnesium plant that supplied munitions for World War II. The state took over the plant after the war and the town was incorporated.

“The city was born out of World War II,” said Nicole Johnson, the city’s public relations coordinator.

The day started early. Crowds lined up before 9 a.m. for a free breakfast prepared by the Heritage Park Senior Facility and served by Henderson City Council members. Burkholder Middle School’s orchestra played music as attendees gathered on the grass in front of the Henderson Convention Center to chow down on pancakes, eggs and bacon.

Mayor Andy Hafen served breakfast at his last Heritage Day as mayor. Later, he reminisced about the many decades since childhood he has celebrated Heritage Day.

“It started off as Industrial Day parade to celebrate the plants and the way we got started as a city,” Hafen said. “It kind of transitioned into this Heritage Day parade. Heritage of family, heritage of workplace, heritage of the city.”

A highlight of Saturday’s parade for Henderson local Amanda Sloan, 28, was Foothill High School’s marching band.

”I went to Foothill, and because they’ve been in the Macy’s Day Parade and Rose Parade, it’s really awesome to see a school from Henderson do so well and to be nationally recognized for their hard work,” she said. “I think it’s really cool to say, ‘I went there.’”

After the parade, Robin Slonina, creator of “Skin Wars,” a competition body paint show, demonstrated floral-themed body painting.

“I kind of didn’t really know how fun this would be,” Slonina, a Las Vegan who owns Skin City Body Painting, said of her first time attending the parade.

At the events plaza, dozens of children jumped around in a bounce house. Vendors sold funnel cake, cotton candy, and popcorn while parents and kids alike snacked on free cupcakes to celebrate the city’s birthday.

By 2 p.m., the audience had thinned, but Mark Hall-Patton, the Clark County Museum administrator and a regular on the TV show “Pawn Stars,” still answered questions from people who stopped by.

“He’s a walking encyclopedia about Henderson history,” Johnson said of Hall-Patton, who moved to Las Vegas in 1993.

Of the city’s history, Hall-Patton spoke of the use of magnesium in World War II.

“It burns down big cities,” he said, referring to the bombing of Dresden, Germany, and Tokyo.

He acknowledged that the city’s history wasn’t always pretty, but that “it’s still our history.”

Contact Brooke Wanser at bwanser@reviewjournal.com. Follow @Bwanser_LVRJ on Twitter.

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