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North Las Vegas moves past budget fireworks

North Las Vegas is nearly out of money, but nobody there is ready to give up and call it a night.

The city has stretched its employees thin, reduced hours at the libraries, is battling with its police and fire unions over an attempt to force wage concessions, and has canceled nearly all of its large community events.

Except for one.

"This is a priority," said City Manager Tim Hacker. "Our community said, ‘Look, we need something to look forward to.’ "

That something is happening on Tuesday. The Independence Day Jubilee will feature live music, food and, of course, a huge fireworks show.

Gates open at 5 p.m. at James Seastrand Park, and the festivities start at 6. The fireworks show is set for 9:15, when it’s good and dark, and maybe a bit cooler. The high temperature is supposed to be near 105.

Last year, a crowd of 40,000 showed up for the jubilee. This is no small deal.

Tickets are $4 at the gate, or advance wristbands can be bought, five for $15. Last year tickets were just $2. It was the first time the event was not free.

The city already killed off the popular Balloonapalooza and Tastes & Tunes festivals, which used to draw similar crowds in the spring and late summer.

"This really is the single large event we have," Hacker said of the Independence Day festivities.

The event is in its 13th year.

He said the decision to keep the jubilee going was one the City Council made after community meetings last year. People clearly wanted to keep this one last event, he said.

But even so, he said it is unlikely the event would have continued if the city were footing the entire bill. He said the total cost is expected to be around $115,000, but most of it will be paid by the event’s sponsors and revenue from ticket sales and on-site concessions.

He said the most the city will spend on the event is $25,000, though he expects the final bill to come in below $20,000. The money will come from a special community events fund that is partly derived from use fees for city facilities, he said. It does not come from the general fund, which is where salaries are paid from and which has caused all the infighting with the unions.

Sponsors, which include Verizon, MedicWest, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Grace Point Church, Nevada Beverage, the Review-Journal and NV Energy, will pick up the tab for most of the cost.

In addition to the fireworks display, the event includes the kids corner and teen zone, live entertainment from Franky Perez and Sleepy Brown, food vendors – including beer – and inter­active sponsor booths.

Pets, glass bottles, umbrellas and umbrella chairs, personal fireworks, tents, tables and portable grills won’t be allowed in.

The city does still partner with community groups on smaller events, such as a Christmas tree lighting ceremony or neighborhood association meetings that can, at times, turn into virtual block parties, Hacker said.

These events are critical to a city’s identity, he said.

"I think it’s good for the health, it’s good for the quality of life, it strengthens the community."

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.

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