But the fun doesn’t start in downtown Sparks or at 9:45 p.m. The 11th annual Star Spangled Sparks celebration will kick off at the Sparks Marina at 6 a.m. with free tethered hot air balloon rides, a pancake breakfast fundraiser and many other activities for children and adults.
The event at the marina is organized by the Sparks Chamber of Commerce and will also feature the annual Model Dairy Milk Carton Regatta, in which locals and businesses work to float their boats using empty milk cartons.
Other events will include the Sparks’ Got Talent variety show, during which locals can show off their unique abilities, and a fun run and walk around the 2-mile marina.
At 4 p.m., the festivities move to Victorian Square for the fireworks. John Ascuaga’s Nugget will be putting on the show.
Booths and a children’s area will set up near 15th Street with face painting for the kids, rides and an Uncle Sam character on stilts entertaining the crowd.
Once the sun goes down, the only free fireworks show in the Truckee Meadows will start at about 9:45 p.m., depending on the wind speed at the time. About 20 minutes of choreographed fireworks will then light the sky above the Nugget.
Those gathered below will see fewer rockets this year, but bigger blasts and better effects, said Grant Van Dam, a Nevada sales representative for Lantis Fireworks and Lasers. The company has put on the show almost since its genesis.
What Van Dam called “happy stars” and thousand-shot rockets will be new fireworks additions to this year’s show.
“Happy stars look like a lot of small, twinkling stars in the sky,” Van Dam said.
The thousand-shot rockets spurt thousands of blasts into the sky at a time, making for a snappier show.
The thousands of shots in the sky will mirror the thousands of spectators gathered below. Nugget spokeswoman and event executive director Beth Cooney estimated a crowd of more than 50,000 this year.
The Nugget will offer a shuttle service from the Legends and Sparks Marina to the Nugget’s west entrance. The shuttles will be two old Regional Transportation Commission buses, donated to the city of Sparks after they reached the end of their useful life with the RTC. The buses will pick up passengers outside of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria at Legends.