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Summerlin patriotic parade turns 27, makes in-person return

Residents driving past Trails Park on Friday could already see blankets, canopies and chairs starting to appear, all signs that the Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade is making its return.

“People are already getting ready,” said Tommy Porrello, an operations supervisor for the council. “It gets very popular.”

Volunteers were putting the finishing touches on their floats on Friday morning for this year’s theme, “America’s Birthday Party Parade: A Summerlin Community Celebration.”

Last year, the event was held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers were unsure of this year’s parade status until the state lifted restrictions for large gatherings on June 1. The 27th anniversary of the parade will be smaller because of the shorter planning period but provide many of the same attractions.

“Even though it’s a little shorter version this year, we still think it’ll have all the festive parade experience we’ve had in the past,” Porrello said. “An energetic, moving parade, so anywhere you are along the parade route will be a good seat.”

The parade starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at the corner of Hillpointe Road and Hills Center Drive and ends at Trails Park.

Related: Where to watch fireworks, celebrate the 4th of July

Elizabeth Engle, who first volunteered with the parade in 2001, recalls when it mostly involved children riding decorated bicycles and parents walking on foot. The event has grown to include more than 100 floats, large helium balloons, performance groups, cartoon characters and a touted attendance of more than 40,000.

Engle said she hasn’t missed a parade in 20 years and helped out last year by making props for the virtual celebration.

“The parade is home to me,” Engle said. “Everyone comes out. I see all my neighbors, and it’s so fun. It’s like a mini Disneyland.”

The row of 25 floats on Saturday will include “Uncle Sam’s Hat,” “Captain America,” “Viva Las Vegas” and fan-favorite “Undersea Jubilee.” The float was retired in 2013 after four years in the parade but returned the past two years after a poll from Summerlin residents.

“Since the theme is America’s birthday party, we’re making sure all the fish are part of the party as well,” said Dwight Jones, a 21-year-old parade volunteer.

Like Jones, many volunteers participated in the parade as children. Jones called it a “big part of his Fourth of July,” which is why he continues to volunteer. Engle cited similar reasons; her children, now 26 and 23, used to ride on the floats as kids’ characters.

For many years, Porrello said, he was unaware of the parade but now it’s had a “significant impact on him and his family.” All three of his now-grown children have participated and volunteered in the parade for years.

“Tomorrow at the parade we will have all the way from my 85-year-old father to my 1-year-old grandchildren,” Porrello said. “We’ll have four generations enjoying the parade, from young to old, and I don’t think we’re unique. I think other families use it as a rallying point to have time with each other.”

Attendees are encouraged to arrive early, carpool, wear sunscreen and bring water to stay hydrated.

Contact Mathew Miranda at mmiranda@reviewjournal.com. Follow mathewjmiranda on Twitter.

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