LAUGHLIN — Each year during the Fourth of July, thousands of people flock to Tri-state for the Rockets Over the River fireworks display.
For some, it’s their first time, and for others, it’s an annual tradition.
Around 5 p.m. on July 4, people started to stroll the Laughlin River Walk. The crisp Colorado River was finally defeating the day’s 100-plus-degree heat. Families and friends finally started to exit the river and leave their air-conditioned casino resort safe havens.
Several people, including Ron Koller, already were finding and guarding their spots for the Rockets Over the River display that started at 9:30 p.m.
Koller and his group decided to hunker down in the grass in front of the Edgewater Casino.
Koller, of San Diego, has been coming to Laughlin with his family for around 30 years. They took the whole week off to celebrate and headed back home on Friday.
“The water is what keeps bringing us back,” he said. “Plus we like to gamble. Who knows maybe if we get lucky (pointing toward the casinos) we may stay a couple more days.”
Besides gambling, Koller and company bring their boats for a total of three. They spent the afternoon on the water and headed to Topock, where the river traffic was less hectic.
For Rafael Lopez, it was his first time visiting the area.
He spent the Fourth with his brother, sister and their kids, who visited the Tri-state last year.
“I came down for the holiday, and the fact that I have never been here before,” Lopez said. “I wanted to check the place out.”
So far, he said, he had been enjoying himself and just was taking it all in. Lopez, from Anaheim California, also left for home on Friday.
However, it wasn’t all out-of-towners who were gathering on the river walk. Locals Nancy and Charlie Lowler, from Bullhead City, decided to get a room at the Riverside Hotel and Casino over the holiday.
“We just come over for the fun of it and wanted to be here for the fireworks,” Nancy Lowler said. “It’s what we came for; I love the fireworks.”
Laughlin local Gene Lovas was just taking his dog, Missy, on their daily routine walk along the Colorado River Heritage Greenway Park and Trails next to the Riverside.
“I’m just hanging out looking at the tourists, walking the dog, and enjoying the weather,” he said. “There are very few places in Laughlin that you can actually take a dog in this weather, but this is perfect.”
The biggest thing for Lovas as a resident is seeing the mess some tourists leave behind. He said that just on his walk he had seen trash within five feet of a trash can.
“That’s the biggest downside to all these visitors is their disrespect to the area,” Lovas said. “Every time I go out I probably pick up between two to five pieces of trash as I am walking the dog. It’s just discouraging to see what some people disregard.”
Lovas has been in Laughlin since 2010, when he retired. As for the rest of the Fourth of July, he was going to take it easy and head to his secret place — he didn’t share the location — to watch the fireworks where the sound didn’t bother Missy.