From sunup to well after sunset, thousands of Boulder City residents and visitors marked the nation’s 239th birthday with pancakes, parades, games and fireworks for the 67th annual Damboree Celebration.
For many the day started in Bicentennial Park as members of the Rotary Club of Boulder City served a free pancake breakfast. Club members estimated they made about 1,500 pancakes and grilled an equal amount of sausage for roughly 750 guests.
Then, with the roar of engines overhead, members of the Boulder City Veterans’ Flying Group kicked off the parade as they made three passes over Nevada Way.
“Great Americans: The Next Generation” was theme for the parade, with those who have won the Great American award and its founder, Clare Tobler, serving as grand marshals. There were nearly 65 entrants, with roughly half of them armed for the ever-popular water zone where participants and spectators engaged in a multiblock-long water fight that left everyone drenched.
Five entries were presented with awards. Winner of the most creative entry was Boulder Dam Credit Union, which presented a giant three-tiered cake in red, white and blue to celebrate the nation’s birthday and mark its 75th anniversary. See Spot Run came in second place.
Red Mountain Realty took first place for the best themed entry, while Faith Christian Church came in second place.
The Best Dam Firecracker award was presented to Casimer Kusak, who dressed as Uncle Sam and rode his bicycle decorated with flags and patriotic symbols.
The parade ended at Broadbent Park, the site of games, family and friend reunions and food booths.
“There’s not a better place to be on the Fourth of July than Boulder City,” said Councilwoman Peggy Leavitt as she helped welcome people to the festivities.
Practically every square inch of the park was filled as people picnicked or played games. The kids zone paid homage to the city’s founders with help from the 31ers Educational Outreach Program from the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum.
Games were themed around historical events and activities, such as the wooden crates that children threw “sticks of dynamite” into or the outhouse that they threw plastic scorpions into, all with the hope of winning a prize.
Additionally there were traditional events such as a pie-eating contest, face painting, sack races and the annual coin toss in the municipal pool.
It also was a day to reconnect with old friends. Members of Boulder City High School’s class of 1985 gathered for an informal 30th class reunion in Broadbent Park after the parade.
Scott Boyce, who lives in Boulder City, said about half of their graduating class was there, coming from as far away as Saudi Arabia. He said it’s just nice being able to touch base with everyone and see what they have been doing.
“We’ve all stayed relatively close,” said Brenda Wagner, who now lives in Henderson. “We’re still a close-knit group.”
Stephen Barrick, who now lives in Texas, said it was especially important to gather with friends this year because parts of Boulder City High School will be torn down.
By the end of the afternoon as people filtered from one park to another for the evening activities, the green of the grass gave way to a sea of colors as confetti eggs and spray string remained as evidence of the festive nature of the day’s celebration.
The anticipation for the night’s festivities could be felt throughout Veterans’ Memorial Park.
At 6:30 p.m., two-and-a-half hours before the fireworks began, cars were lined up along Veterans Memorial Drive waiting to find a parking spot in the dirt lot across the street.
Families set up camp at the baseball fields, some of whom were barbecuing on the pitcher’s mounds. The smell of hot dogs and beer wafted through the air as the 7 p.m. hour approached.
Dawn Mackey, a Boulder City resident since 1992, got to the park at 1:30 p.m., when she and her family set up their tents. By 7 p.m., she and Phil Crapo were grilling enough hot dogs to feed the 10 people they came with.
Attending Boulder City’s Fourth of July festivities has become a tradition for Mackey and her family. Since she moved to Boulder City 23 years ago, she’s never missed a Damboree celebration.
“This is a family environment. That’s what it’s about,” Mackey said. “Look around. Where else would I go? I could go to Vegas, but it wouldn’t be like this.”
Ashley Legler, a Henderson resident, spent the entire day in Boulder City, starting with the parade at 9 a.m. With her 18-month-old daughter, Paisley, dressed in red, white, and blue by her side, Legler enjoyed the company of friends and family who made the trip with her to Boulder City.
“It’s a small-town feel,” she said. “Really family-oriented, and I like that everything is patriotic.”
Greta Robbins and her two sons, 10-year-old Sloan and 8-year-old Troy, had a blanket set up in the park close to the rock-climbing wall and bounce house. The Robbins’ live in Arroyo Grande, Calif., but have come to Boulder City for the Fourth of July for the past three years.
Robbins said the fireworks show closest to her home in Southern California was pulled in 2013 because of funding, so she and her sons needed to find an alternative for the holiday.
“I made it my mission to find the best fireworks display this side of the Mississippi,” she said with a laugh. “I hit on this, and it has such a great family feel to it.”
Robbins said she and her boys prefer the Boulder City festivities to the ones her hometown used to offer because of the numerous activities the park offers. She said coming to Boulder City for the Fourth of July has become a new family tradition.
“There’s great people watching, there’s a lot to do, and the fireworks are amazing,” she said. “It just has a really, really positive vibe.”
As the sky blackened and the stadium lights throughout Veterans’ Memorial Park were turned off, visitors were treated to a 20-minute fireworks show that featured patriotic tunes from Neil Diamond, Lee Greenwood and Ray Charles among others.
Even after the main event ended and folks spilled into the heavily crowded parking lot, others stayed inside the park to discuss their busy day, capped off with the highly anticipated fireworks show.
“No one beats the fireworks here,” Legler said.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter. Contact reporter Steven Slivka at email@example.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @StevenSlivka.