By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
Patriots of all age and size gathered bright and early on Tuesday, July 4th, in a hometown celebration. The crowd was assembled to honor their country by raising a flag to celebrate freedom on Independence Day.
The flagraising was organized by local resident Lorraine O’Dell and carried out by local veterans service organizations with many Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in uniform lining the pathway and carrying flags.
Veteran Joe Perez gave an invocation and then talked about the sacrifices made by those who helped this country gain and maintain freedom.
O’Dell also spoke about sacrifices, specifically those made by the signers of the Declaration of Independence. She spoke about the persecutions they suffered because they put their names on that document. She said that they were soft spoken men “who had security but valued liberty more.”
Dennis Vance, Adjutant for the American Legion Post 75, and Bruce Hollinger of the VFW were there to raise the flag. “The number one reason I’m here today is to honor our nation on its birthday,” Vance said. “It is a remembrance to all of us of how many lives were lost to keep it free.”
The flag-raising was well-attended with more than 150 people in attendance.
After the flag-raising, the crowds flocked to the Fine Arts building where they were treated to a free breakfast sponsored, cooked and served by members of the Moapa Valley Rotary club. The club anticipated feeding around 750-800 people this year, due to the holiday falling mid-week.
“ We’ve been doing this breakfast for at least thirty years,” said local Rotarian Ken Robison. “This is just Rotary’s way of giving back to the community and giving thanks to our veterans and our country.”
In addition to Rotary’s time and food contributions, the milk for the breakfast was donated by Anderson dairy, the plates and utensils were donated by Rik Eide of Great Basin Cooking Co., and McDonalds donated ice and other items.
One new addition to the breakfast was the presence of Miss Nevada Rodeo Katie McBride who came to help serve the hundreds of people in line.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else on the 4th of July besides helping our war heroes and our community,” McBride said.
After the breakfast, the family fun started with a kids’ parade organized by Karen Alsum Insurance and Cal’s Repair Center. The kids sported red, white, and blue decorations as they marched, biked, scootered, strollered, or otherwise made their way through the fairground parade route.
The kids then lined up for the candy drop. Many years ago, the candy was dropped from ultralight aircraft that flew over the fairgrounds. However, these days, the candy is simply spread across the lawn by Parks and Rec staffers and the kids are set loose to gather it up. As the morning heated up, it was time for the crowds to cool off. Parks and Rec provided water games for kids who chose to participate, including wading pools and slip’n’slides.
They were later joined by the local volunteer firefighters who sprayed down the willing, and sometimes not-so-willing, with waterhoses to help cool them off with a shower of fun.
The festivities took a break through the afternoon heat. But the celebration began again in the evening with a flag lowering conducted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Families then lined up for a free evening meal of pulled pork organized by the Moapa Valley Chamber of Commerce. Over 200-pounds of meat were prepared for the dinner by Kevin and Suzy Bennett. Simplot donated water and Mesquite Regional Business donated money which helped cover the cost of potato chips. 4-H members helped to serve the dinner. Scott and Linda Carson once again stepped up and donated shave ice treats. “We’ve done dessert here for over 20 years,” Carson said. “We can’t stop now.”
His former employees from the new-closed Tiffany’s Sub Shop, volunteered their time to serve the seemingly never-ending shave ice line. Alison Hardy said she didn’t mind, though. “I love doing this because I love seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids,” Hardy said. “There is nothing better than shave ice on a hot day.”
Attendance at the dinner exceeded expectations. Moapa Valley Chamber of Commerce president Marjorie Holland said that the servers went through 600 buns and ran out. “People still took plain meat on their plates,” Holland said. “It was a great turnout and we didn’t get any complaints about the cooking!”
Suzy Bennett expressed appreciation for business owners who were donors for the meal including the Carsons, Simplot, Inside Scoop and Sugars. “Part of the reason we do this is so our local businesses can be spotlighted for doing community service,” Bennett said. “So we’d like to thank those that stepped up to the plate and donated.”
As the evening fell, crowds gathered on the lawn to listen to some great local music and relax with friends. Moapa Valley Town Board member Brian Burris offered free glow sticks and bracelets. Both kids and adults alike took him up on that offer so the fairgrounds were aglow before the fireworks ever started.
Mary Kaye Washburn, president of the Moapa Valley Revitalization Project announced the winners of the decoration contest. First place this year went to Foremost Realty, followed by McKesson Realty and Cal’s Auto Repair.
July 4th committee chair Lori Houston also presented three awards. The first was the “Spirit of the Community” award. “Just like women helped with the war efforts, we wanted this award to go to a woman who helps our community,” Houston said.
The award was presented to Lorraine O’Dell.
The next award was the “Community Service” Award. Houston presented this award to Bruce and Kathy Hollinger. “This couple has spent countless hours serving the community through the VFW organization,” Houston said.
The third award went to local veteran Joe Perez, who was called away to serve another veteran and couldn’t be there. Perez continues to help veterans as a rural outreach coordinator for the Veteran Transition Resource Center.
Following the national anthem, sung by local resident Dave Robison, the fireworks show took off and thrilled the crowd.
Houston was pleased with how the night went. “This is the biggest turnout we’ve had in many years,” she said. “I’m thrilled because everything went so smoothly. The families and kids definitely had fun this morning and everyone has been enjoying the evening. I appreciate everyone who donated time and resources. I appreciate our veterans and military families.”
Response to the evening was overwhelmingly positive. Many people spoke of the tradition of attending that they have with their families. Kenzie Hastings perhaps summed it up best saying, “This celebration is worth coming back to every year. I love seeing old friends, spending time with family, and getting to enjoy a hometown celebration.”