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April 18, 2014

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Fourth of July:

Six decades later, Damboree still unites Boulder City

Residents line up for parade, stay for food and games

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Sam Morris

July 4th celebrants fill Broadbent Park during Damboree festivities in Boulder City on Saturday, July 4.

Boulder City fireworks 2009

Sebastian Zavila marches around Veterans Memorial Park in Boulder City with an American flag before the start of fireworks Saturday, July 4, 2009. Launch slideshow »

Boulder City Damboree celebration

From left, Harley Devorski, Las Vegas, Hunter Brady, Omaha, Neb., and Cezanne Devorski, Las Vegas, chase each other with squirt guns during Damboree festivities in Boulder City on Saturday, July 4. Launch slideshow »

Fourth of July coverage

As a Giggles ice cream truck made its way down Sixth Street toward the end of the 60th annual Damboree Festival parade, a swarm of children ran screaming with their hands raised for a free red, white and blue popsicle.

“Go get your ice cream,” the announcer said.

“Ice cream!” they yelled.

Thousands gathered Saturday in Boulder City for the Independence Day festivities. A flyover by the Boulder City Veterans Pilot group kicked off the morning parade. Nine airplanes flew overhead in formation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made a quick appearance at the beginning of the parade to welcome spectators to the event. Other elected officials who attended included U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), state Treasurer Kate Marshall, state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse (D-Henderson), Assemblyman Joe Hardy and state Supreme Court Justice Kristina Pickering.

About 75 groups participated in the parade, including Boulder City High School cheerleaders, H-Town Racing, Las Vegas Showgirlz, and local baseball and softball teams.

Beginning at about 8 a.m., residents lined lawn chairs and blankets near the sides of the road, lugging coolers and water guns, and slathering sunscreen on arms and legs. An ever-winding trail of silly string decorated the grounds of Broadbent Memorial Park with children spraying friends, parents and the occasional passersby.

The parade livened when the water entries came through, with many armed with water guns. Those who wanted to keep dry moved away from the sidewalk while the rest hurled water balloons in a game that seemed as if those who were the most drenched were having the most fun.

Janice Simpson lives in Las Vegas but has made the drive to Boulder City for the past seven years for the Fourth of July. She said she hopes the city will continue to keep the tradition alive.

“We really like it. That’s why we keep coming back,” she said. “It’s great. It’s very family-oriented.”

She said her favorite part is the water zone, though as her dry clothes indicated, she decided not to participate this year.

“I do when my grandkids are here, but today we’re holding back,” she said. “But usually we’re drenched.”

Barbara Agostini, who has helped coordinate the parade for 11 years, said she was pleased with the turnout. She estimated that 25,000 people showed up for the parade and expected thousands for the fireworks display at Veterans Memorial Park later in the evening.

“It’s a long day for us,” Agostini said. “We start at 4 a.m. and end at about 2 at night.”

But she said it’s worth it to see people having fun. “It’s something they look forward to every year,” she said.

After the parade, spectators retreated to Broadbent Memorial Park for food and games. Many had overhead tents to shield them from the afternoon sun. People flocked to the concession area where lemonade sold for $3 a glass and a hot dog cost $4.

The grass was still damp from ringed-out T-shirts and half-empty water guns.

Adam and Amanda Hallam recently moved to Boulder City from Summerlin, and this was the first time they had been to the Damboree. They both said they were attracted to the small-town charm. Boulder City, they said, feels different than Las Vegas; it’s more authentic.

“(The parade) was just, like, people throwing water at each other,” Adam Hallam said. “There’s no smoke and mirrors. It’s just the enjoyment of being together in one place.”

Amanda Hallam agreed: “It’s people letting their guard down and just having fun.”

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