Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2014

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At LV Phil event, hearts go boom

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Hepi Mita/Las Vegas Sun

Chuck and Carol Coleman have been watching the fireworks in Summerlin regularly since 1994 — the same year Chuck proposed marriage to Carol.

Chuck and Carol Coleman first experienced the fireworks in 1994. But it wasn't on the Fourth of July. It was in October.

Harmonic Pyrotechnics

Summerlin residents were treated to the Las Vegas Philharmonic's 10th annual Star Spangled Spectacular at the Hills Park. Attendees afternoon hours were spent lounging in the grass. A slight breeze helped to create a relaxed atmosphere up until the excitement of the fireworks extravaganza, choreographed to Philharmonic's renditions of classic American compositions. (Length: 4:33)

And it wasn't an actual pyrotechnics show that stirred the couple. It was Chuck, on a white horse (rented), in a suit of armor (also rented), onstage at Hills Park during a show by what was then called the Nevada Symphony Orchestra. Chuck and Carol had been dating for six months when he decided to propose, with some costumed, equine and symphonic assistance.

"I'd been riding horses all my life and knew a guy who owned a stable in North Las Vegas, so I borrowed a horse and got this suit of armor," Chuck said a couple of hours before the Las Vegas Philharmonic's 10th Star Spangled Spectacular concert and fireworks show at Hills Park in Summerlin. Carol, seated on a blanket next to her husband of 13 years, added, "He had told me he couldn't make the show because he had to help a friend move, so I came out here with some friends to watch the show without him."

Not quite. Chuck arranged with event organizers to approach the stage on horseback and deliver his proposal. "I have traveled miles and miles," he stated as the orchestra boomed dramatic Renaissance-themed music. Then he called out Carol's name while still concealed by the hooded mask.

"I thought I'd won the raffle," she said.

But then friends sprinkled throughout the audience -- many of whom were on hand just to see this theatrical proposal -- held up signs reading, "Say Yes."

A Summerlin Celebration

As colorful fireworks burst into the Summerlin sky, the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra performs Tchaikovsky's Launch slideshow »

"I said 'yes!'" Carol said, laughing. "It worked. We've been together ever since."

The Colemans were the first in the gate for the holiday show and sat right up front for the Phil's powerful performance.

"We were here a half-hour before the gates opened," Chuck said. "We come every year. It has a lot of nostalgia for us."

As they say, the spark is still there.

More from the show:

-- Former Phantom - Las Vegas Spectacular lead Brent Barrett sang four songs -- "Something's Coming," "All I Care About is Love," "They Call The Wind Mariah," and "Here's To the Heroes" -- before flying out Saturday morning to rehearse Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, in which he will perform for two weeks this summer. Barrett has no plans to leave Vegas -- he still owns a home in the Lakes -- and will headline a Pops show at UNLV's Ham Hall on March 21. It is not out of the question that he could one day return as the Phantom in Vegas, as Equity contracts run for one year. If he's still here and there's an opening ... Just a thought, a hypothetical there.

-- The night was remarkably pleasant, but it was really warm before the sun set. And what happens to a classical acoustic instrument in high temperatures? "It goes sharp," said harpist Tara Skouson. "Actually, we both go sharp. When the others are taking their little breaks, I am tuning up."

-- In 10 years and 11 shows, the orchestra has never seen the Zambelli Internationale fireworks show, which is set off high above and behind the partially enclosed stage. "I tried leaning back and craning my neck last year," said Las Vegas Philharmonic Conductor and Music Director David Itkin. "I couldn't see anything."

-- The program featured the music of George M. Cohen and a grand finale highlighted by Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture."

-- Odd sightings: MGM Mirage exec and longtime communications guru Alan Feldman in Bermuda shorts, Channel 8 weather anchor Sherry Swensk in a bright red top, Mayor Oscar Goodman in a tan pinstriped suit and Rep. Shelley Berkley in white cargo pants and a blue top emblazoned with dozens of little American flags.

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