Tim Boxer

Nina Boxer

Sparks just ahead

Sparks Ignites The Heavens

EVADA is an Indian word for "snow-clad." Nevertheless we made our visit to Reno/Sparks-Lake Tahoe in July, eschewing snow skiing, tobogganing, sledding and other snow related activity in favor of golf (40 public golf courses in the area), sun and poolside fun, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, scuba diving, sailing, sightseeing and enjoying the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Actually I settled for sightseeing.

Sparkling fireworks

For a small city, summer in Sparks has much to offer. Every Thursday evening through mid-September the Hometowne Farmer’s Market, held in Victorian Square, has fresh produce and specialty foods plus cooking demonstrations and entertainment. In August they celebrate their love affair with cars, featuring classic car parades.

Sparks Heritage Foundation & Museum displays railroad artifacts dating from the town’s founding in 1904. Call 775-355-1144.

Seeing Stars

Independence Day in Sparks is something special. With a population of more than 80,000, this fast growing city, bordering Reno, went all out to celebrate. The fun started at 10 a.m. at the Sparks Marina with food and concerts that ran all day.

Many of the locals were dressed as pirates or beach bums, and many showed off T-shirts with various designs of stars and stripes. They frequented the craft booths and engaged in volleyball games. The younger set was busy with a sand castle contest and other youthful activities.

In the late afternoon we followed the crowd to Victorian Square, a picturesque shopping/casino/restaurant district in the center of town. Thousands of people came with blankets, beach chairs and picnic baskets. They congregated on the streets, grass and parking lots. Roving magicians and musicians kept them entertained until sunset.

Toward dusk we saw a flyover by the Nevada Air Guard in a vintage World War Two plane.

Looking good

Suddenly the night sky exploded with a symmetrical array of flashing lights. It was the beginning of the sixth annual Star Spangled Sparks, northern Nevada’s largest Fourth of July fireworks display, emanating from the towers of John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino & Hotel.

As we were staying at the Nugget, we had access to a VIP area in Victorian Square. Waiters catered to the invited guests who sat in comfort at tables to watch the heavenly light show. The free buffet offered apple pie with ice cream, topped with blueberry or strawberry.

John Ascuaga’s Nugget started out in 1955 as a 60-seat coffee shop. Over the years it has morphed into a gigantic1600-room world-class hotel resort with an indoor and outdoor pool, health club and an airport shuttle. Its Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off has been a huge attraction for the last 16 years. Information at 800-648-1177,

Nugget’s twin towers over Victorian Square

Check out the Nugget Stay & Play Golf Packages, starting at $89 per player for 2 nights/3 days. Or go for the Ski Tahoe/Stay Reno deal starting at $59 per person per night (and the fifth night is free). You have a choice of 8 ski resorts, including Squaw Valley U.S.A. Prices may change so call 800-803-6918.

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