It’s officially a Mesquite tradition.  For the ninth year, the Eureka Casino Resort hosted the community at “Rockets Over Red Mesa,” a free patriotic concert and dazzling fireworks.  The celebration brings together old friends and neighbors and adds a sizzle to the hot nights of July.

Years ago, the City of Mesquite sponsored July 4 fireworks display for town, but nine years ago the Lee family and Eureka Casino Resort picked up that baton—literally–to assure a Mesquite Independence Day celebration would carry on.  Through connections forged with Richard McGee, director of the Nevada Pops Orchestra, Doris Lee arranged a free pops concert in the Eureka parking lot, followed by a fireworks show staged on Red Mesa, behind the casino.

Headliner Travis Cloer, of Jersey Boys fame, sings with the Nevada Pops
Orchestra as Richard McGee conducts. Cloer and his band performed a
second show Friday evening. Photo by Linda Faas

The event was a smash hit, drawing a huge crowd of people, most dressed in shorts and various combinations of red, white, and blue.  Over the years, through summer temps that would fry an egg on the pavement, the Eureka has loyally continued to host the free concert and fireworks, observing America’s Birthday.

The event has grown to include headliner singers from Las Vegas, an abundant BBQ, and  activities planned to benefit local non-profits that participate.   A pre-concert charity village of nonprofit organization booths, a veterans’ booth, and other zany, fun activities bring in more and more revelers each year.  Kids for Sports danced away with the $1000 prize for best lip-sync act of 2019, performing “Cell Block Tango.”  Cognicize won the $500 Rookie Award with “Proud Mary,” and Salvation Army’s “Fishin’ In the Park,” captured $500 as Audience Favorite.  All participating lip-sync-sters earned a $100 entry prize.

Opening the July 4 evening, Eureka CEO Greg Lee and COO Andre Carrier took the concert stage to welcome the crowd and introduce US Senator Jackie Rosen, who was making her first visit to Mesquite’s July 4 celebration.  The Eureka executives led off their remarks by thanking their customers and guests and paying tribute to Doris Lee, Greg’s mother, for her inspiration and love of the arts.  They announced an upcoming Eureka-funded renovation of the Mesquite community theatre that will honor Mrs. Lee for her contributions to Mesquite’s cultural life.

The Exchange Club of Mesquite raised money for its 1000 Flags Over
Mesquite event at the July 4 Eureka charity village. Photo by Linda Faas

Then, Nevada Pops opened their concert with a rousing march and continued through a repertoire of classic songs and musical salute to military veterans.  Show tunes by John Williams are this orchestra’s standards, and this year his theme from the movie Midway, was featured. The night’s headliner vocalist was Travis Cloer, who played Frankie Valli in the Broadway hit, Jersey Boys.  Cloer sang a medley of show songs before McGee closed out the concert with a pair of Irving Berlin numbers and march songs that amplified the renown Red Mesa fireworks display.

A new milestone in the constant reinvention of Eureka’s holiday celebration, was the addition of a second free concert.  Travis Cloer and his band returned for a 90-minute performance on Friday, July 5.  Cloer cemented his own fame as lead singer in Jersey Boys, the musical that chronicled the career of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  He brought the music from that show to life for Mesquite, just as he had performed on Broadway and in an eight-year run in Las Vegas.

A casual crowd gathers for the Nevada Pops concert and fireworks at Eureka
Casino Resort. Photo by Linda Faas

Cloer possesses a massive voice and dynamic stage appeal.  From his stage entrance to the show finale, he dominated the evening.   Backed by his six-member band,  He riffed through many jazz favorites and the much-anticipated feature tunes from the Four Seasons playlist.   Interjecting songs of the other star from Jersey, Frank Sinatra, and steaming through Peggy Lee’s “Fever,” Cloer kicked up the volume and fun.  As his performance drew to an end, it became a sing- and dance-along with fans clustering near the stage, singing,  “Oh, What a Night!”

The Eureka, an employee-owned business, hosts this celebration of America as a thanks to its hometown and customers.