Next week we celebrate the 236th anniversary of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence.
It’s not the anniversary of winning our independence. That didn’t occur until Oct. 19, 1781, when the British surrendered to Gen. George Washington at Yorktown.
But July 4 marks when we stood together as one united nation to declare our determination to risk everything in defense of our freedom.
We still fight to maintain our freedom today. But instead of muskets and cannon balls we use ballots and information.
But we still have the determination to put it all on the line to protect our cherished freedoms.
And that’s what we’ll celebrate next Wednesday when those skyrockets soar over Red Mesa.
The entire day should be filled with celebrating our enduring American belief in freedom.
And the City of Mesquite and the Eureka Casino Resort are giving all of us plenty of opportunities to celebrate. Take advantage of all of it.
Start off the morning helping to bring an American tradition to Mesquite. The Virgin Valley Little League is doing a fundraiser, pancake breakfast at the Mesquite Senior Citizens Center. Mesquite never has had a Little League program and that’s a shame.
Little League gives boys and girls the chance to develop their baseball skills. That will help the baseball and softball programs all the way through high school. And baseball still is the American pastime.
Breakfast will be served 7:30-9:30 a.m. at the center, located at 102 Desert Dr. behind the Mesquite Recreation Center.
The recreation center, located at 100 W. Old Mill Road, will be the site for most of the other daytime July 4 activities.
They kick off at 10:30 a.m. with contests under the basketball hoops in the recreation center’s gym: three-point shooting, a basketball skills competition and free-throw contests. Those contest run through 11:30 a.m., but over lap with other activities at the outdoor pool.
There’ll be lots of fun games: a water balloon toss, watermelon football and racing the lifeguard will be the top activities, with opportunities to cool down with a snow cone or soda and listen to some music or get your face painted. If you need an energy boost to keep your celebration going, there’ll be candy for sale, as well.
It will be hot out there, but the pool and water-play equipment should keep everyone cool.
July 4 is a day for patriotism. And nothing is more patriotic than helping your fellow citizens.
Untied Blood Services of Nevada and the Virgin River Casino have scheduled a blood drive in the casino’s River Room from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Donors will receive a buy-one, get-one free breakfast or lunch voucher for the Virgin River buffet.
The Eureka Resort Casino at 275 Mesa Blvd. becomes the center of attention at 3:30 p.m. when the Jack Daniel’s Backyard Barbecue opens inside the Experience Buffet. The Eureka chefs will be serving up the barbecue through 8 p.m.
You’ll also want to check out the Community Vendor Village at Eureka. Every Thursday, the Eureka has held the Pasta Garden at the Experience starting at 4:30 p.m. A portion of the proceeds has been turned over to a selected, local charity or non-profit organization, and the group has been able to set up a table to seek other donations.
But next week Wednesday, July 4, will be the day the Eureka is giving all of the community’s groups and organizations the chance to raise money from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. And the Little League will again be part of that group, serving up ice cream cones instead of breakfast.
All the while the Community Vendor Village is open, participants will be entertained by a live D.J. on the premises.
At 6:45 p.m. another American tradition, as ingrained as baseball, will join the celebration. There’ll be a hot dog eating contest to raise more money for charity.
By this time, people will start to get excited about the grand finale – the Rockets Over Red Mesa fireworks show, provided for the third year by the Lee Family, owners of the Eureka.
But the Lees have another treat first. The Nevada Pops Symphony Orchestra again is coming to Mesquite for the Independence Day bash. The Pops will begin its concert at 8 p.m.
This makes the Eureka-Mesquite celebration the largest July 4 event in the state, and people will come from all over Southern Nevada and Utah to witness it and join in.
At 9 p.m., while Nevada Pops continues to play, the fireworks show will begin and last well into the evening.
But for many the celebrating won’t stop when the last skyrocket is fired.
Before, during and after the pyrotechnic sky show, many local residents will be lighting their own fireworks bought at the many stands around town.
Only save-and-sane fireworks are allowed in Clark County. But that doesn’t stop people from bringing in illegal fireworks or using legal ones in an unsafe manner.
Every year, the Mesquite Police Department and Fire and Rescue units get called out on July 4 because of complaints or fires.
It’s easy to tell if the fireworks you have are legal: if they leave the ground or explode they’re probably illegal.
Fireworks like sparklers or those that keep to a small circular area are legal. But even legal fireworks can add to the many cases of burns, scars, loss of vision and even losing a finger or two. Innocent bystanders can become innocent victims, all too easily.
So make sure your homegrown fireworks displays are done safely. Keep them away from brush and buildings. And set them off on a hard flat surface. Have a garden hose nearby in case of fire and make sure a responsible adult is present.
Independence Day is a time to celebrate this great land of ours. Enjoy all the fun made possible by the City of Mesquite and generosity of the Eureka Resort Casino that paid the price for the giant celebration.
But remember, as well, the price that was paid 236 years ago so we have reason to celebrate on each Fourth of July.