Parade to pack in floats, balloons, dignitaries and performers

It takes place in Summerlin, but the entire Las Vegas Valley is invited to celebrate Independence Day at the 18th annual Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade, touted as Southern Nevada’s largest and most colorful Fourth of July parade. More than 35,000 people are expected to view the free event.

Leigh-anne Mateyka and her family began attending last year. She has a boy, 2, and a girl, 4, and plans to take them again this year.

"It feels like hometown, like the parades I used to go in when I was a little kid in California, in Escondido," she said. "There was a Christmas parade every year, and I was a Girl Scout, and I was in that, and my grandfather was in the American Legion … so it kind of has that same feel but a much better quality. … It’s really a high-quality parade, pretty impressive."

The parade is planned from 9 to 11 a.m. July 4, with the escort division, which includes dignitaries, veterans, police, firefighters and car clubs, planned to commence at 8:30 a.m. The public is encouraged to arrive early and be in place by 8 a.m.

The parade route will begin at the corner of Hillpointe Road and Hills Center Drive in The Trails village, and participants will travel south on Hills Center Drive toward the Village Center Circle roundabout before heading west on Trailwood Drive. It will end at the corner of Trailwood Drive and Spring Gate Lane.

The Desert Angels Gospel Choir is slated to kick things off by performing atop the Let Freedom Sing float. The parade is set to feature more than 60 entries, including traditional floats, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade-style giant helium balloons, marching bands and performing groups, and a variety of children’s favorite storybook and cartoon characters. One example is the On the Road with Mario float —- an 18-foot, animated-motion Mario Kart float featuring Mario, Luigi and friends.

The Springs Preserve is sponsoring the 15-foot Lorax balloon, which is making its national debut in Summerlin. It will be ushered along by a costumed mascot character provided by Universal Pictures, riding in a convertible. It is promised to also be accompanied by a veritable forest of Truffula trees, make-believe trees featured in "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss.

"It’s a perfect fit for us," said Jim Johnson, public relations representative for the Springs Preserve. "Much like the Lorax, at the Preserve, we strive to ensure each person who visits understands the importance of a healthy and sustainable future."

Other new entries include Viva Las Vegas, a 20-foot inflatable of Elvis Presley; Boot Scootin’ Boogie, a 30-foot cowboy boot inflatable surrounded by country line dancers; and Ben Franklin: Founding Father, a 10-foot inflatable of the man who helped form the United States. Another oversized inflatable is the 12-foot Death Star from "Star Wars."

Many traditional favorites are again part of the lineup, including Spirit of ’76, Visions of Candyland, Under the Sea Jubilee, A Tribute to Lady Liberty and An All Star Salute to the Military.

Tom Warden, senior vice president of community and government relations for The Howard Hughes Corp., developer of Summerlin, said a number of companies stepped forward to take part this year.

"It’s fair to say that in the last few years, the economic challenge that we’ve faced has made it a little more difficult for local businesses to take part in helping to sponsor the parade," he said. "But this year, we see a marked increase in participation and sponsorship."

The parade is coordinated by The Summerlin Council, the nonprofit arm of the Summerlin Community Association. Title sponsors for 2012 are Summerlin and Hughes Corp. QI Security Services is a premier sponsor.

For more information about the parade, call 341-5500 or visit summerlin.com.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 387-2949.

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