INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The night sky erupting in bright bursts of colors before raining down sparkling streaks is a common sight on the Fourth of July — but Red, White and Tahoe Blue is adding a twist to the classic this year.
Thursday night’s fireworks display will be synchronized to music, reaching from the east end of Ski Beach to the west end of Incline Beach, all the while possibly containing a few other surprises for spectators, said Jim Smith, chairman of RWTB.
“We challenge ourselves every year on what can we do better this year that we didn’t do last year,” he said.
A statement that doesn’t just apply to the fireworks display, but the entire RWTB celebration, which is entering its seventh year, kicking off Wednesday, July 3.
The four-day celebration will feature 27 events, ranging from returning favorites such as the fireworks display and rubber duck race to new ones — including a full outdoor theatrical and orchestra production of Les Misérables, a concert by Elvin Bishop Band and Pablo Cruise on the Village Green, and mountain biking and hiking on the Flume Trail.
“As I look through all the events that are going on, there is something for everyone,” said Audrey Few, chair of the children’s bike parade, which leads the annual community parade along Highway 28 the morning of Saturday, July 6.
Also a new feature this year is a free shuttle bus, courtesy of Lake Tahoe School and Tahoe Expedition Academy, that will transport locals and visitors to several of the events.
“(It’s) to move people safely through town, to reduce the parking of cars (and) congestion,” said Smith, adding that free transportation has been in the works for the past two or three years.
KEEPING IT LOCAL
Since Smith became chairman in 2009, RWTB has grown in its offerings, something done intentionally.
“Having a festival, what it does is allows the folks who are in town — families, friends and visitors — to stay in the community and enjoy the community over four days rather than looking for something else to do and leaving town to go to another event, in another city,” Smith said. “So it keeps the tourism dollars (here).”
Red, White and Tahoe Blue’s local economic impact is as much as $4 million annually, he said, considering it draws people across the nation and world to Incline Village and Crystal Bay.
“I think it has gone from a good event to a world-class event,” said Incline resident Tom Bruno, who served as the first chairman of RWTB.
When the first festival was held in 2007, in part to provide the community with a great fireworks show, it also featured a parade, a tribute to local veterans, a flyover, a rubber duck race, wine and cheese tasting and a free breakfast at the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District fire station, Bruno said.
“I was sweating bullets,” Bruno recalled from that first year.
Fellow RWTB committee member Allen Ferris helped to put the event into perspective, however, by telling Bruno it would be a success as long as the parade and fireworks were a hit.
“When I saw that (the parade), I knew it was going to be a hit,” Bruno said.
Now it’s one of the biggest annual events in the greater Truckee/Tahoe region.
Helping make that possible are the volunteers, businesses, nonprofits, service organizations and individuals that donate time and money to the event, Smith said, tying into RWTB’s tagline: “It’s takes a community.”
“It’s humbling to know that this many people want to participate, want to be involved, and then we’re celebrating our country’s independence — that’s the goal,” he said. “... We just want to get better every year and continue to bring happiness and joy and celebrate our liberty and freedom.”
Red, White and Tahoe Blue is a nonprofit organization. To learn more, and to see a complete schedule of events, visit www.redwhitetahoeblue.org.
“We just want to get better every year and continue to bring happiness and joy and celebrate our liberty and freedom.”
Red, White and Tahoe Blue chairman