David Becker/Las Vegas News Bureau
Tuesday, June 2, 2020 | 2 a.m.
Fourth of July celebrations in Southern Nevada are plentiful with multiple parades and fireworks displays from casino rooftops. Last year, more than 300,000 visitors were in town to take part in the festivities.
This year’s celebrations, which fall on a weekend, were expected to draw a bigger crowd. Yet, for now, they’re marred by uncertainty.
The parades were the first to go.
Last month, the 72nd annual Damboree Celebration was called off in Boulder City, and the Summerlin Patriotic Parade, on its 26th iteration, was scrapped for a “virtual event.”
“There’s no way that a pandemic is going to be a good thing with over 9,000 people in a park,” said Dr. Dawn Green, an organizer for the Boulder City event, noting that until the crisis is “somewhat controlled,” she doesn’t foresee large-scale celebrations taking place, adding that several had previously been canceled in her city.
Earnings from the Boulder City celebration — which include a community pancake breakfast and other daytime activities before a fireworks show when the sun sets — usually pay for the next year’s fireworks display.
Green, one of the organizers, said that all that’s left is to be vigilant about the “nasty” virus that “none of us want.”
“Hopefully we have a party pretty soon saying that ‘yay, we can get back to (normal),’” she said.
Organizers of the Summerlin event hope that some of the regular attendees of the parade will participate in the online version. They say the parade draws an annual crowd of 40,000.
“We plan to include a number of the same community groups and organizations that participate in the parade, but in a virtual way,” said Lezlie Barnson-DeNardin, executive director of the Summerlin Council, in a news release.
As resorts begin to reopen with limitations, it still unclear what July Fourth celebrations will take place or what they might look like. In the past, Station Casinos, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and others launched fireworks from resort rooftops.
Right now, the focus is on reopening properties after more than two months of closures.
“It’s too early for us to know,” said Chelsea Ryder, a spokeswoman for Caesars Entertainment.
The holiday last year attracted 309,000 Las Vegas visitors, who occupied about 98% of the hotel rooms, with a projected total economic impact of more than $300 million, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
It’s unclear if those numbers could be replicated this year, especially with current limited capacities at table games, or how long it’ll take the tourism industry to regain its footing.
“The LVCVA and our resort partners are excited to welcome guests back to the destination with the reopening on June 4. As we move forward, we will continue to follow the guidance of state leaders and health experts so that we can continue to ensure the health and safety of our guests,” said Lori Nelson-Kraft, senior vice president of communications and government affairs for the LVCVA, in a statement.
The Las Vegas Aviators, the area’s longtime Triple-A baseball franchise, also probably won’t have its annual fireworks display following a game, although officials still haven’t canceled.
Even if baseball launches its season before the holiday, games likely wouldn’t be contested in front of spectators. The franchise has sold out the Fourth of July game for 33 consecutive years.
The Las Vegas Lights FC were also planning to shoot off fireworks on July 4 following a home game at Cashman Field. But, as of this week, the United Soccer League had paused its season.