Saturday, July 5, 2008 | 4:13 a.m.
This July 4 was much like any other day on the Las Vegas Strip: hot, busy and festive. The majority of Strip-goers, however, seemed oblivious to the fact that it was a national holiday -- the nation's birthday.
Any Friday in Vegas is a holiday, right?
California resident Christopher MacMillan, in town to celebrate his cousin's wedding, said as much.
"It's definitely a place you can celebrate almost anything, so it's a lot of fun to be here," he said.
Tatyana Barrios, of California's San Fernando Valley, said shopping in Vegas was a big draw for her this weekend.
"We'll probably catch the fireworks later, but my favorite part of Vegas is shopping," she said.
Although many people up and down Las Vegas Boulevard were simply celebrating for the sake of celebrating, a number of pedestrians could be found wearing patriotic pride on their sleeves.
Sporting an American flag on his polo shirt, Roger Solorzano said the Strip is the perfect place to celebrate anything from birthdays to holidays. He and his wife, Maribel, drove from Palm Springs, Calif., to celebrate the Fourth -- and Roger's birthday, which was Thursday.
So, why come to Vegas?
Maribel responded in Spanish and her husband translated: "She loves Vegas and thought it would be a good idea to come for the Fourth of July."
A first-time visitor to Vegas himself, Roger said he is never lacking for entertainment options.
"It's a busy town. There's a lot of people, it's busy; it's a 24-hour town," he said. "The hype is higher than on a normal day because it's the Fourth of July."
At Mandalay Bay, the Neal family, from Winslow, Ariz., stood out in their red, white and blue attire. Emily Neal, 6, even had flag-colored ribbons in her hair.
"It's my favorite holiday and we always get dressed up," said her mother, Jayme Neal. Emily chimed in: "It's my favorite holiday, too."
The Neals said they planned to spend the day taking in the sights along the Strip until the fireworks went off.
Micaela Davis, 18, and her sister, Mariah Ward, 8, had one destination in mind before the fireworks began later in the evening: the Bellagio fountains.
Standing in the entryway of the Showcase Mall holding two M&M's World shopping bags, Davis, of Wichita, Kan., said she was in town for a dance competition. She said despite the heat, she was determined to take in as many of the attractions on the Strip as she could fit into her schedule.
"It's too hot outside, but I bear through it because it's worth seeing everything here," she said.
Cleveland resident and first-time Vegas visitor Noah Kirsch said Las Vegas is the perfect spot to celebrate America's birthday.
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"The Fourth of July is all about energy and excitement, and being in Las Vegas definitely magnifies that," he said.
Like many out on the Strip Friday afternoon, Kirsch and friends Jordan and Dan Stone, of Livingston, N.J., said they were looking forward to the promise of fireworks lighting up the already bright Las Vegas skyline.
Leticia Meza was visiting from California with her young daughter to "see all the fireworks and not be at home." She said she likes Las Vegas because the casinos have entertainment for both adults and children.
"We just want to be here and celebrate our patriotism and see all the fireworks today," she said.
And fireworks displays there were.
After 9 p.m., the Las Vegas skyline came alive with lights. At the Las Vegas Hilton, guests lined the parking lot to see the show, which started promptly after the Las Vegas Country Club finished its fireworks display. A small group of children practiced saying the Pledge of Allegiance while the rockets went off above.
As the brilliant reds, blues and golds burst above the casino, the excitement was palpable.
"I thought they were spectacular. They were so powerful the ground was shaking," spectator Marek Kryszkiewicz said.
The California resident was in town for the weekend to visit friends. He took a minute to reflect on what it means to be an American.
"I think a lot of people don't think about where they live as much as they should," he said. "Not a lot of countries celebrate freedom because they're not free."
LasVegasSun.com's Denise Spidle and Sarah Feldberg contributed to this report.