People camped in any shade they could find at Victorian Square on Wednesday afternoon. Canopies and blankets were in heavy supply as people propped up tables and unfolded chairs several hours in advance to the firework show.
Families took turns standing from their ice-chest seats to grab a cold drink or more potato salad as they delved into their own barbecued food brought to the event. With the firework show still hours away, staving off boredom in the scorching sun was the most difficult task for many people.
“We mostly like to people watch, listen to some patriotic music and just chit-chat,” Deanna Frost said. Frost, of Reno, said arriving early is important for finding the perfect vantage point and each year that she does is “worth it.”
Sparks Fire Department firefighter Vince Bush was working with members of the SFD crew on the streets of Victorian Square. He said this is not his first time being in downtown Sparks for the Fourth of July.
“I have always enjoyed being down here during the holiday,” Bush said adding that he enjoys having a front-row seat to the show. “Some people don’t like being down here but I think it is always a good time.”
Bush and his family spend about half their Fourth of July holidays in Arnold, Calif. where they watch a small firework show being held on a nearby lake. Though he enjoys the view from his family cabin, he said the fireworks “don’t even come close” to those of Sparks.
Spanning the paved sidewalks and parking lots were food, beverage and entertainment booths. Children had the lay of the land with games, such as the Hermit Crab Throw, giant bounce house mazes, face painting and balloon animal stations and plenty of Fourth of July keepsakes to go around. Food vendors like Star Spangled Spuds served up heaping mounds of curly, fried potatoes while several ice cream trucks dished out frozen treats.
As darkness surrounded the dim street lamps of Victorian Square, balloon animals were traded in for neon glow sticks wrapped around children’s heads and wrists as they frolicked inside the barriers of the event. People began tilting their heads toward the sky, anticipating the flip of the switch to shut off the lights around the square signaling the beginning of the fireworks, which was delayed until about 10:30 p.m. by wind.
Clay and Jeannie Carlson, along with Frost, arrived at 6:30 p.m. to find their parking spot across from the Century Theaters parking garage. The Reno natives made themselves cozy inside their 1941 Mercury convertible coupe — top down, of course.
“We have watched from (the car) for several years and the fireworks are very good each year,” Clay said adding that when the family is in town for the Fourth of July they usually make their way to Sparks for the evening.
“It takes us about half an hour for us to get here and an hour to get back home,” Jeannie said.
After discussing the length of the 19-minute firework show and laughing at the amount of time they spent commuting to downtown Sparks, the Carlsons nodded in agreement when Frost (again) said, “It’s worth it.”