Updated July 5, 2022 - 12:22 am
Las Vegas Valley residents celebrated the Fourth of July Monday from Summerlin to Boulder City with parades and fireworks after a two-year pandemic kept thousands indoors for the holiday.
The 74th Damboree Parade began at 9 a.m. and included more than 50 floats descending down Nevada Way in Boulder City between horses, bicycles and trucks. Hundreds gathered at the corner of Nevada Way and Fifth Street, where the parade turned after passing Southwest Diner.
Families wore matching tie dye, children hid bathing suits under their clothes and residents and visitors alike dressed in their most festive Independence Day ensembles.
Nicole and Sam Jeffries were originally from small towns in Washington, so when they moved to Las Vegas two years ago the couple knew Boulder City would be the closest thing to their former homes.
“When it’s too hot, you don’t get to be outdoors as much,” Nicole Jeffries said. “But we found a shady spot.”
At 11 months old, Monday marked Billie Rose Jeffries’ first Fourth of July. She wore a red dress and jumped around in her aunt’s arms before the parade.
Lawrence and Kendra Conteras of Henderson brought their children, 8-year-old Grace and 5-year-old Elias, to stake out a spot outside Southwest Diner. Before the parade, the kids played with their grandmother, Linda Contreras, who they recently convinced to move to the Las Vegas Valley.
“We just like the small-town atmosphere as both of us are from small town areas,” Lawrence Contreras said. “It’s a great opportunity and the weather has been pretty tame.”
Grace Conteras said she was most looking forward to the infamous water zone, where those in the parade and those watching splash each other with hoses, water guns and buckets of water.
Sharing the town
Boulder City residents Brent and Kris Edlund were thrilled to see the parade return after the pandemic. The couple has come annually since moving to town in 2002.
“It’s good to see everybody out and see the red, white and blue and support for our country,” Kris Edlund said. “It feels good to be back after COVID.”
The couple said they enjoy having residents of other nearby cities stop in for the parade because it’s good for businesses.
“I’m just glad that there’s still a lot of people celebrating freedom and independence, and I think we need a whole lot more of it,” Brent Edlund said. “We love sharing our beautiful town.”
Rep. Dina Titus, Gov. Steve Sisolak and several other political candidates waved as they were among the earlier vehicles in the parade. The Mounted Horse Patrol stopped to allow children to pet the animals, and a John Deere tractor did wheelies to the sounds of cheers.
At 10:10 a.m., a golf cart cruised by Fifth Street and Avenue A announcing the remaining floats were water entries. The road quickly turned into an ocean; screams erupted; some took cover and others fought back by dumping water guns into trash can-sized buckets of water scattered along the sidewalks.
A concrete truck fired unrelenting water at the crowd, soaking everyone in its wake. One truck simply carried buckets of water, without hoses, and those onboard poured water onto children who attempted to fight back from the sidewalk below. Some floats in the parade were just boats decorated with Fourth of July getup. Those onboard similarly battered parade revelers.
At least 35,000 people were expected along the one-mile route of Summerlin’s Patriotic Parade, where massive floats were in the works for weeks.
The entries included 20 giant balloons, a choir, a marching band, mariachis and displays representing Las Vegas pro teams: Golden Knights, Aces, Aviators and, for the first time, the Raiders. An Elvis impersonator and a “Very Vegas Birthday Party” cake float were also included in the parade’s 28th annual celebration.
Families scrambled to claim valuable lawn spots, coolers in tow, as Henderson’s celebrations opened at Heritage Park.
The event centered on a lineup of live music acts with activities for the whole family, such as a firehose-like foam machine, an obstacle course, staples such as face painting and a dozen food options. Fireworks were scheduled for 9 p.m., an hour after sunset.
Country music act Lonestar headlined the music portion, but a peppering of fireworks from nearby neighborhoods guaranteed there was never a quiet moment.
Bobby Leonard made sure to bring his family early to beat the rush. It’s the first time his family has gone to a large-scale maskless event since before the pandemic. His youngest son is 9 years old.
“Most of his recent memory is COVID. We’ve had to go and make plans based on restrictions for years,” he said. “But now, having his friends here, it’s really, really good.”
Pandemic-era worries were a nowhere to be seen as kids ran through the park’s fields.
“This type of normalcy, not having to wear a mask and feeling free … it’s refreshing,” Stephanie Baker said.
Despite the variety of entertainment options provided by the city, not everyone took advantage.
“(Our kids) have been too busy playing with the other kids and running around,” Baker said. “It’s perfect.”
As the sun began to set, the lines to get into the free event only got longer. The city said it expected about 20,000 attendees.
Some families skipped the line entirely, opting instead to set up their picnic blankets and chairs on the hill of the adjacent Cinnamon Ridge Park to catch the firework show.
“We come out here every year, the kids love the playground,” Sean McAndrews said. “This year’s show was spectacular, better than all the other ones.”