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August 23, 2014

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Memory of longtime volunteer to sparkle during Boulder City’s July 4 celebration

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Mona Shield Payne

Robin Reese hands Craig Corey, right, an American flag outside the Boulder Dam Credit Union while collecting donations and selling T-shirts for the Damboree fireworks display in 2009. For 20 years, Reese, also known as the “Jug Lady,” decorated water jugs and placed them around town, helping to raise money for the Fourth of July celebration.

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Robin Reese with her daughter Sheena at the 2009 Damboree celebration.

Clad in a vest resembling the American flag, Robin Reese was the embodiment of American patriotism with her red lips, bright white smile and sparks in her clear blue eyes.

Boulder City residents lovingly knew Reese, whose favorite holiday was the Fourth of July, as the “Jug Lady.” She acquired the nickname because she would place jugs around the city to collect donations for the Damboree, the town's annual Independence Day celebration.

Sadly, she died in December after combating a number of ailments for years. But her dedication to the holiday won't be forgotten soon by Boulder City.

Roger Hall, director of Boulder City's Parks and Recreation Department and Damboree chairman, said Reese, a mother of two and a grandmother, would be honored during this year’s event.

“In memory of Robin, we're going to be shooting a large 12-inch firework at the beginning of the show,” said Hall, who knew Reese for 25 years. Hall said the firework also would commemorate the life of dentist Jose Angel Gomez, who was born on the Fourth of July and died in 2009. Gomez frequently volunteered with the Boulder City Parks and Recreation Department.

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Robin Reese working at the beer booth during the 2009 Damboree.

The 65th annual Damboree Celebration, which will feature a parade, live entertainment, food and games, will be capped by the large fireworks show. Hall said the Damboree committee received a $15,000 grant from the city for the fireworks, but the 25-member committee had to match the amount, as well as cover other operation costs.

Although the committee's costs are partially offset by the $10 parking fee to the Veterans' Memorial Park event, Hall said the money collected in the jugs was another way to recoup the costs.

Hall said Reese had taken care of the jugs for more than 20 years. Although preliminary Damboree planning would begin in January, Reese would excitedly await the end of the tax season when she could decorate and distribute the jugs.

“We wouldn't put out the jugs until after tax season. On April 15, Robin would call me and come over, and she'd take them home and pretty them up and put them out at various local businesses,” Hall said.

Reese, Hall said, usually would set up shop at the Boulder Dam Credit Union.

“She would sit out in the front of the credit union and give out little flags to people and Damboree shirts in exchange for donations,” said Hall, who noted Reese joined the committee in the early 1990s.

Hall said Reese worked tirelessly to make sure the Fourth of July affair was as spectacular as possible.

“She was a sweetie. She put in a lot of hours. She loved Boulder City. It was very important to her,” said Hall, adding that Reese reinforced her love for the city with her countless volunteer hours.

Hall said it was evident that Boulder City loved Reese back.

“They nicknamed her the 'Jug Lady.' It was on her name tag — 'Robin Reese, the Jug Lady,'” Hall said.

The director said the motto of Boulder City's Independence Day celebration, “Be kind — it takes all of us,” rang true this year. Hall said volunteer Marcie Gibson and Christy Springate-Hill, a fellow Damboree member, dedicated a lot of their time and energy to continue Reese's work.

“(Reese) was battling some illnesses for the last couple of years, and they had been working with Robin to make sure the jugs got out. Those two people stepped up to the plate,” Hall said.

Toward the end of her life, Reese met with Gibson and Springate-Hill to ensure they would uphold the jug tradition. Gibson said she was happy to take up the task on her friend's behalf.

“She was the sweetest person in the world. She would do anything for anybody. When someone was in need or needed help, she would be there,” said Gibson, who was friends with Reese for 10 years.

Gibson said this year they set out 10 jugs at locations including supermarkets and family-owned businesses such as Grandma Daisy's Candy & Ice Cream Parlor and Boulder Dam Brewing Company.

Hall said even though Reese is gone, her memory would still be present throughout the daylong July Fourth event.

“Robin is with us right now even though she's passed,” Hall said. “She loved life, and it's going to be different without her. She did a lot of work for our community, and we're going to miss her.”

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