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Suburban celebration

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Spectators watch fireworks at Veterans Memorial Park as part of Boulder City’s Damboree festival Saturday, July 4, 2009.
Photo: Sam Morris

Forget Tao’s red carpet, the Mirage’s blue lagoon pools and the white light atop the Luxor; Las Vegas’ real Fourth of July celebration was in the suburbs last night.

While the holiday draws thousands of tourists annually, Independence Day at the casinos is essentially more of the same: more celebrities, more flashing lights, more people and more money. But if you took a drive into a valley neighborhood last night, you were likely greeted by a rare sight. Residents had spilled onto their front yards, pulled lawn chairs into their driveways and were sharing the communal space of back roads to watch countless sparklers and fountains perform in the warm night.

While fireworks filled the skies around the valley and tourists anted up for bottles at the clubs, these small celebrations embodied the holiday more organically. Neighbors talked to neighbors. Smoke drifted upwards. Kids marveled at the flaming sidewalk displays, and parents clucked at them to stay out of burning range.

I imagine that 30 years from now similar gatherings will be taking place on the Fourth of July around Las Vegas and all over the country. People will come outside to light petite pyrotechnics and watch with a degree of awe as they offer their display. For a second, we’ll all share the same half-held breath as sparks splinter into the air and the smell of gunpowder grows heavy. Then the clock will tick towards July 5th and the moment will pass.

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Sarah Feldberg is the editor of Las Vegas Weekly magazine. A veteran journalist, Feldberg previously worked as the Weekly's web ...

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