The booming fireworks brought thousands of local residents and visiting families to downtown Sparks and Victorian Square for the 14th annual Star Spangled Sparks celebration. The live music, food and drink vendors, rides for children and cooling water fountain brought crowds downtown early while the Lantis Fireworks company had them staying late for the aerial show.
Nugget Public Relations Manager Lauren Garber said the Sparks property was buzzing with people throughout the evening with a little help from the scorching sun.
“We had a great weekend here at the Nugget,” Garber said Monday. “It was very hot out, which was driving people inside and that was great for our restaurants and the casino. We were sold out for the Fourth of July weekend, which was great for us as a hotel.”
Garber said the fireworks show nearly underwent a wind delay for the second year in a row, but the wind stayed below the 15 mile per hour cusp, allowing for the show to run on time. She said the show also changed from previous years in that a shorter show allowed for a more festive display.
“We did shorten the show by a couple minutes this year so we could get more bang for our buck, so to speak,” she said. “We were able to have a more explosive show with fewer lulls by shortening it a couple minutes. We really liked that, but I don’t think we would shorten it any further.
“There was definitely more electricity this year, which was a result of us trying to stop the lulls we had last year with a longer show. I think it really did pack a punch and I think everyone enjoyed it.”
Garber said the turnout was great on Victorian Square near the Nugget and added that having people from Reno come over to Sparks for the show is a unique component that the Fourth of July event has.
There weren’t many spots left on Victorian Plaza as the sun went down on the Rail City, but one group of locals had its spot staked out as early as 6 a.m. Tents and chairs plastered a large area where Reno resident Luis Martinez and his family spent the entire day just waiting for the firework display.
“When we first did set up seven years ago, we were like the first ones here,” Martinez said, “And we would get the corner spot, but now you can see it was already taken. People are getting here a little earlier and now we are moved down just a bit.
“We set up close to the water so all our kids can go out and have a good time all day. We go to the movies and we kind of enjoy the whole day. There are six or seven families that come together here with us, and their kids, and we have an awesome day.”
As a seven-year veteran of Star Spangled Sparks, Martinez said squeezing in a couple naps throughout the day was key to lasting until the firework show. He said being early was an important part of the day, but the most important part was the surrounding people.
“It is just really about spending time with friends and family and hanging out,” he said. “This is our home and it is nice to be here again. We like to think we started all this in the beginning because there really wasn’t a lot of people who would come out early. We just enjoy the show and it is really great for us.”
Sparks City Councilwoman Julia Ratti hosted some external family members for Thursday’s events in downtown Sparks and the Sparks Marina through the Girl Scouts of Sierra Nevada. She said the organization has employed and will host Girl Scouts from overseas locales like New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Ratti said her new arrivals’ trip was an “important part of Girl Scouting,” allowing them to “discover their world.” She said the girls wanted to soak up as much American experience as possible.
“Last night they went to an Aces game,” Ratti said, “And they are very much looking forward to shopping at the Legends. Today, of course, they are getting in on the Fourth of July festivities in Sparks and tomorrow they are off to Lake Tahoe where they have already been counselors on a portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail.
“I think that they have been really impressed with how nice and welcoming everybody is and just how much activity there is going on during this time in the summer. Certainly they have been down here seeing how much is available.”
Ratti said Sparks has really grown to host several events during the Star Spangled Sparks celebration, but she had no doubt where she wanted to be when the sun disappeared and Victorian Square switched its lights off.
“I really do have a soft spot for the fireworks in Victorian Square because so many people come out and it is such a great event,” Ratti said. “The way they shoot them off the casino and rail yard, with that backdrop, it really just can’t be beat and I think that is my favorite part.”
Diana Hoffman, a Sparks resident who competed in the Sparks Idol competition at the Sparks Marina Thursday afternoon, said the fireworks show and the festive nature of Star Spangled Sparks is a testament to the environment the city offers daily. She said allowing continually more people to experience only benefits the city.
“I think that to celebrate the Fourth of July like we do, with everybody coming out here and enjoying the music and all of the activities and honoring our veterans, is an amazing thing. That is what I really feel is the reason to be here,” Hoffman said.
As the rush of exiting traffic set in and the clean-up duties began on Victorian Avenue, brake lights and filled crosswalks were the most prevalent sight. However, for someone like Martinez, that is just a part of the package you get when you attend Fourth of July in downtown Sparks.
“We know what we are getting ourselves into, in a sense,” he said. “We know it is going to be a long day, and after the fireworks, we know it is going to take some time to get out of here. But we are all good with that. As long as you are amongst friends, time is really not a big deal for us.”