“My youngest son was really disappointed,” Robertson said. “We’ve gone to Rancho San Rafael (Regional Park) every year since he was born and he was so upset to hear we’d have to change our plans this year.”
Robertson heard from a friend about the Star Spangled Sparks event early last week, which she said “made for an easy alternative.”
Robertson said many of her friends and all of her family went to Sparks to celebrate Independence Day once they found out the show at Rancho San Rafael park was canceled.
Leah Rosenberg and her husband drove in from California to take part in the Sparks holiday festivities.
“My husband and I drove up here from Sacramento,” Rosenberg said. “It’s nice to get away for the weekend and I really wanted to check out how a different city celebrates the Fourth (of July) for a change. This place (Sparks) is great.”
With the poor state of the economy in mind, some people at Star Spangled Sparks opted to stay in Sparks rather than travel over the weekend.
“We were originally planning on going out of town for the holiday,” Sparks resident Joan Salvatore said. “Once I kind of looked at my finances, though, I realized that it’d be best to just stay in town. Sparks has a lot of stuff going on anyway, so it turned out for the best.”
This is the ninth annual Star Spangled Sparks, and this year activities at Legends included live music, juggling and refreshments. At the Sparks Marina, there was a talent show, a milk carton boat race and free hot air balloon rides.
While some locals celebrated the holiday by wearing red, white and blue, 22-year-old David Rhinert decided to celebrate by visiting the National Guard tent, set up at the Sparks Marina, to get more information about enlisting.
“I think a lot of people forget what today is all about,” Rhinert said. “It’s fun to celebrate with your family and everything, but what’s really important is finding out a way to repay our country for all of the freedom that we have.”
Rhinert added that there was no better day to “see how I can do my part for this country.”
Across from the National Guard tent was the stage for “Sparks’ got Talent.” As Rhinert got information about the National Guard, 14-year-old Jennifer Carlisle from Lemon Valley sang over the applause of her large audience. She was one of around 40 acts who performed at the talent show.
During the day at the Sparks Marina, there were tents set up for face painting, bounce houses and games for kids.
“We always like to celebrate the Fourth of July during the day,” Sparks resident Joe Klein said. “We have two young daughters, and we’re glad Sparks has something where everyone can get together during the day before the more rowdy crowd comes out at night.”
People moved from the Marina to Victorian Avenue as the day went on.
“We’ll start getting busy around 3 or 4 p.m.,” Blind Onion Pizza and Pub manager Matt Milligan said. “Last year was sort of slow, but we’re expecting a very busy night.”
While Milligan predicts it will be busy at the restaurant all night long, he said that despite the large number of customers, there usually aren’t any problems because “(Blind Onion) has a great crowd.”
Restaurants along Victorian Avenue like Blind Onion prepared for the increase in foot traffic through the area by keeping more staff on hand. For events that take place on Victorian Avenue, the restaurant doubles the number of people working from three on a weekday to six during an event.
The cancellation of the main fireworks display in Reno meant more people coming to Sparks to watch the display at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Saturday night. But police department officials said that the influx isn’t anything they weren’t prepared for.
“With more people coming through Sparks, we have to be that much more prepared,” Sparks Police Department spokesman Rocky Triplett said. “We take as many precautions as we can and are able to keep everything under control with events like these.”