Boulder City is a town rich with history and full of dedicated residents always striving to preserve the beauty of the community. Bicentennial Park in the historic district is no exception. In 1975, the Boulder City Bicentennial Committee was formed to make sure the history of our country and community was not forgotten.
The group originally created a Bicentennial Room at City Hall where classrooms and visitors could learn about the history of our country while being treated to home-made cookies and coffee five days a week. Visitors could purchase silver and bronze Boulder City medallions, State of Nevada pins, pocket patches, various flags, magazines, bumper stickers and decals. Members also sold raffle tickets for 25 cents for donated items such as a red, white and blue afghan hand-made by Jan MacEachern. Together they not only raised funds for the existing park and projects, but for the new building of the Bicentennial Gazebo Bandstand and plaque, which was opened and dedicated on July 4th, 1976 by Nevada Chief of Justice E.M. Gunderson.
The dedication plaque reads: “Commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of our nation and 28 years of July 4th Damborees sponsored by the Boulder City American Legion Post 31. Built in honor of the pioneers and builders of Hoover Dam and Boulder City. Donated by the Boulder City Bicentennial Committee, the Nevada American Revolution Bicentennial Commission and the volunteer efforts of local citizens. Designer and Builder, Harry S. Clark.” If you have the opportunity to speak to Bicentennial Committee Director Jeanne Clark Harshman, she is always willing to share the Bicentennial Committee story.
The park itself was used for meetings, events, theater presentations and of course, the 4th of July Damboree festivities. For over 70 years, Tommy Nelson, American Legionnaire and 31’er played “Taps” on his trumpet every 4th of July, and could be heard from the gazebo stage beginning in 1976. That same year, the National Park Service presented a play entitled “We’ve Come Back for a Little Look Around,” featuring the voices of Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain coming back a hundred years later to see how America was doing. The First Nighters also presented a melodrama called “Adrift in New York,” and Madelaine Garrett directed an election-day program called “Where’s America.”
Today, there are many events and celebrations taking place in the park, including weddings and other private functions. Bicentennial Park is home to race events, art festivals, photo shoots, food festivals, car shows and much more. The Boulder City Special Event Committee and Parks and Recreation Department oversees everything, including booking the facility and necessary City requirements such as street closures, landscape, maintenance and whatever else needs to be done to make these events enjoyable for all.
This Fall, locals and visitors can expect to be wowed once again by the calendar of scheduled favorite events at Bicentennial and the surrounding parks. First up on Saturday, September 29th is the Sunrise Rotary Club’s 16th Annual Wurstfest, Car Show and Auction. From 10:00am until 10:00pm, guests will be able to experience great bratwurst, Italian sausage, hot dogs, beer, soda, water and many other tempting treats. From 12:00noon until 3:00pm live entertainment will take place on the gazebo stage, including Finnegan’s Wake, a foot-stomping Celtic Irish band that was a big hit at last year’s event. They will play again at 7:00pm until everyone gets tired, but this time they will be playing rock-n-roll favorites. Out on the grass kids can enjoy a free carnival, and everyone can stroll around the Classy Classic Car Show, which promises to be better than ever.
The Wurstfest silent auction begins at 1:00pm and closes at 3:00pm and the live auction will take place from 4:00pm until 6:00pm. Come see what the auctioneers are wearing this year…you won’t be disappointed! Both auctions will feature amazing deals on vehicles, art, jewelry, trips and lots of surprises. Funds raised go right back into the community, the majority of which goes towards sponsorship of the drug and alcohol-free All Night Graduation Party for high school seniors. The event allows kids to safely have fun all night under supervision, and is usually the last opportunity they have to spend together as a class. Additional contributions are made to Boulder City schools, Emergency Aid’s food bank, troops overseas and lots of other worthwhile projects. To contribute new or gently-used auction items, please call 293-4151. All donations are tax deductible.
Next up on Fall’s event schedule is the 50th Annual Art in the Park celebration, benefiting the Boulder City Hospital Foundation. Each year, Southern Nevadans always know cooler weather is on the way once Art in the Park arrives the first weekend in October. This year’s festivities will take place Saturday, October 6th and Sunday, October 7th from 9:00am until 5:00pm. The event typically draws over 100,000 visitors each year, and features a wide variety of artists, craftsmen, culinary delights and live entertainment. For the last fifty years, proceeds from the event have ensured residents are provided with superior healthcare and medical resources close to home right at Boulder City Hospital. Over the years, the event has become one of the largest juried art events in the entire Southwest. Artisans working in a variety of mediums from traditional oil to canvas, water color and sculpture, are side by side with glass blowers and crafters. Truly a cornucopia of all things art will be spread between all four downtown parks. This year’s featured artist is Robert Fleming of Bermuda Dunes, California. He specializes in traditional loose, wet-on-wet watercolors. The inspiration for much of his work is captured from the beauty of the surrounding areas, including his featured print “Quail in the Thicket.”
One of the most popular attractions at Art in the Park is the famous raffle. Each of the hundreds of participating artists donate at least one piece of their work, and select local businesses and sponsors also donate gifts, trips, experiences and certificates for lucky ticket holders. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Hospital or Boulder Dam Credit Union, and on-site at the event throughout the weekend. For more information, to donate items, volunteer, sponsor, advertise or participate, please call 293-0214 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another popular event this fall is the Pumpkinman Triathlon, now in its ninth year. Starting at Lake Mead and ending at Bicentennial Park, this season-ending event is always one to see. Not only are Halloween costumes allowed, they are encouraged with the best costumes being chosen at the end of the race. The Pumpkinman Triathlon offers three different courses, the Sprint, Olympic and Half. For the uninitiated, the half is the longest with a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run. For more information contact D Wiedeman at 303-960-8572 or visit bbsctri.com/pumpkinman.
The community at large can reflect back to our nation’s Bicentennial celebration in 1976 and thank those people on the Bicentennial Committee who had the foresight to see the potential for Bicentennial Park. Today’s multitude of events are benefitting in ways that the Bicentennial Committee may not have imagined. So, whether you attend an event, run a marathon or simply go to relax, Bicentennial Park is a great place to get away.