The air smelled of sunscreen early Wednesday as throngs of Las Vegans took over the streets of Summerlin to watch dancers, marching bands and Disney princesses parade in celebration of America.
Children giggled in their red, white and blue dresses, waving flags at each passing float and giant balloon while their grownups watched from lawn chairs.
At the Summerlin Patriotic Parade this Fourth of July, the big city of Las Vegas felt like a small town, parade-goers said.
“It’s nice to see everyone out together supporting Vegas,” said Katy Andrews, of Las Vegas, who with her husband Kody Andrews brought kids Kole, 3, and Kendall, 2, to the parade for the first time.
The Patriotic Parade, now in its 24th year, which drew just over 40,000 spectators Wednesday to watch 70 demonstrations, including a Vegas Golden Knights float featuring defenseman Deryk Engelland, the Danza Del Carrizo Native American performing group and several Disney-themed presentations.
It kicked off with an opening escort just before 8:45 a.m. at the corner of Hillpointe Road and Hills Center Drive, and concluded near Trailwood Drive and Spring Gate Lane.
Three-year-old Sophia perked up when she saw a float designed after Disney’s Moana. Her grandmother’s boyfriend Jerry Brothers, who held Sophia in his arms so she could comfortably watch every moment of the parade, was quick to point out the movie’s Polynesian backdrop.
Brothers applauded the parade’s organizers for showcasing a range of cultural celebrations, from Native American dance to Chinese performance.
“We’re the world’s greatest melting pot of countries and cultures,” Brothers said. “To see it represented on our birthday is extraordinary.”
Though parking was a nightmare for those who arrived not long before the parade’s 9 a.m. start time, many said they will return next year — but maybe just a bit earlier. That included Heather Acuna, of Las Vegas, who brought toddlers Camila and Caliber with her husband, Heber Acuna, for their first Summerlin parade experience.
“I love it, the kids love it, and it’s lots of fun,” she said. “I think it’ll be our new annual celebration.”
As the parade wound down around 11 a.m., many spectators shared similar afternoon plans: swimming, watching fireworks.
“And of course,” Melanie Jones, of Las Vegas, said, “Grilling a burger.”
If you’re sticking around Summerlin for the day, catch the Las Vegas Philharmonic perform in celebration of its 20th anniversary at 5 p.m. at TPC Summerlin, 1700 Village Center Circle. Admission to the event, which will feature food and fireworks, is $10, or $25 for a family four-pack.
Henderson will host its Fourth of July celebration at Heritage Park, 350 E. Racetrack Road, from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is free.
Fireworks will go off at 9 p.m. across the Las Vegas Valley at spots including Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, Red Rock Resort in Summerlin, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station, in North Las Vegas and the Stratosphere in downtown Las Vegas.