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September 1, 2014

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10 things I learned at Helldorado Days

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Maria Phelan

Helldorado Days is so much fun, you won’t know what hit you.

1. There’s nothing like a parade to remind you how much of a small town Las Vegas really is. High school marching bands, banner-carrying community organizations, dancing groups, Shriners piloting mini-flivvers down the street … if the parade route didn’t cross Fremont Street, you might not know you’re in Vegas.

2. A group of tough guys on Harleys wearing matching leather vests can be imposing. When they’re passing out candy, not so much.

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It's not a parade without the Shriners.

3. Helldorado Days began in 1935. It was started by the local Elks Lodge #1468 as a way to encourage tourism after Boulder Dam was completed. It’s the longest-running civic event in our city’s history. So can we kill that “no culture” noise?

4. A big plate of barbecue always tastes better when you’re eating outside. Bonus points if you can see a horse while you’re eating.

5. After spending a few years in the empty Downtown city blocks between the El Cortez and Highway 95, Helldorado may be moving to a different Downtown location in 2013. Hopefully it will stick close to the energetic, pedestrian-friendly Fremont Street.

6. Rodeo warm-up music is more diverse than I expected. Not sure if pounding out Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Motley Crue is intended to hype up the horse, the rider or the crowd. Probably all the above.

7. There are a lot of cowboys named Brock. Guess I need to get some tighter jeans.

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Luke Dolin thrills the crowd at the conclusion of the Helldorado Days PRCA Rodeo on May 20.

8. To call 61-year-old Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins a cowboy is something of an understatement. Not only did his sponsorship cover the entry fees for the steer wrestling competitors in Sunday night’s PRCA Rodeo finals, he competed himself. It didn’t turn out well—his steer was a little too quick—but he jumped back up out of the dust a lot faster than I would have, and I’m 35.

9. Canadian bareback rider Luke Creasy broke his femur into four pieces Saturday night. Just wanted you to read that and wince a little.

10. There’s probably a lot of Las Vegans who’ve never been or never heard of Helldorado, but know this: all of the proceeds benefit local charities including children and veterans in need. Also, it’s a lot of fun.

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