North Lake Tahoe July 4 fireworks display valued at $200,000 |

North Lake Tahoe July 4 fireworks display valued at $200,000

The annual Red, White and Tahoe Blue fireworks display will explode above Lake Tahoe at 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 4.
Courtesy Gene Murrieta |

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Each year, the Red, White and Tahoe Blue festival aims to top the previous year’s Independence Day celebration with higher-quality events — and a bigger, bolder and brighter fireworks show.

Don’t believe it? Just check out this year’s price tag for the nonprofit’s marquee event.

“I’d put it at $200,000,” said Ken Lantis, owner of Lantis Fireworks & Lasers, which is conducting the July 4 fireworks display for a seventh year. “If I had to do the barges, and didn’t give the super discount and all that, to sell this at retail, it would be right around $200,000.”

Still, the actual cost to Red, White and Tahoe Blue is around $70,000, said chairman Jim Smith. The rebate is possible because the nonprofit has bought its own barges, and it trains and insures capable volunteers to staff them — all helped by forging a solid partnership with the Draper, Utah-based fireworks company.

“We’ve decided to create a festival that we think the demographics of our community would enjoy.”
Jim Smith
Chairman of Red, White and Tahoe Blue /

“It’s been a lot of fun — I’m 69 years old now, and the way I see it is you have to enjoy things in life, or you don’t do them,” Lantis said. “I’m just so happy that Red, White and Tahoe Blue is going so strong, and certainly appreciate the people who are donating money. It would be a very little show without the community’s help.”

The show will explode above Lake Tahoe off the shores of Incline Beach at 9:30 p.m. Friday. It will feature 400 more shells than last year’s arsenal of 2,200, Smith said, including some that are 8, 9 and even 10 inches in size. The 10-inch rounds can go as high as 1,000 feet.

The increased height and a new strategy this year to launch farther away from shore will allow people to see the show from other locations outside the beaches.

It was important to make those changes this year, Smith said, due to IVGID’s recent decision to restrict beach access to valid beach residents and their guests.

Like previous years, the show will last roughly 30 minutes, and all the shells will be environmentally friendly.

“We use pulp shells, which are biodegradable, instead of plastic shells that float and pollute the lake,” Smith said.

Further, as has been the case for years, RWTB has a partnership with the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, whose divers scour the lake’s bottom every July 5 to ensure no debris is left over.

“Every time, the lake’s cleaner after the show than it was before — we find sunglasses, beer bottles and all kinds of stuff, so we’re always committed to doing that,” Smith said.


Among 28 events planned this year is the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert before and during the fireworks display.

Under the baton of Music Director Laura Jackson, the orchestra will conduct a Boston Pops-esque concert from 8-10 p.m. Friday at the Village Green.

The show includes “Chesapeake: Summer of 1814” — a salute to the 200th Anniversary of The Star-Spangled Banner — as well as “America the Beautiful,” “1812 Overture” and others.

It concludes with a synchronized performance to the fireworks shooting off above the stage. Tickets are $10 for youth and $40 for adults.

Bringing the orchestra back this year — it performed a similar concert for the 2008 festival — was a big win both for RWTB and Incline Village, Smith said.

“We’ve decided to create a festival that we think the demographics of our community would enjoy … and each year we try to improve in terms of customer experience, quality and value,” he said.

Smith said he’s also been discussing a long-term partnership with Tim Young, CEO of the Reno Philharmonic, which — like Red, White and Tahoe Blue — is a nonprofit.

“We want to bring them back … the goal for this to be a long-term relationship to be part of our event for the future,” Smith said. “And what’s great about it is the partnership is an investment on both our parts, because net proceeds and revenues benefit us and their nonprofit, since we’re producing this event together.”


Aside from the fireworks, the most-attended event each year for RWTB is the parade.

This year’s is Saturday, July 5, starting with the Kid’s Bike Parade at 10:15 a.m., followed by the full procession at 10:30, which will traverse Highway 28 from Village Boulevard to Southwood Boulevard, and onto Incline Way, ending at the Village Green.

This year, RWTB allowed free entry for floats in the parade. Another new feature is the addition of the McQueen High School marching band, which performed in last year’s Rose Bowl parade.

“We feel the marching band is a really positive enhancement to the parade,” Smith said. “It goes to our bigger focus to have enough events for the folks to stay in our community and not have to travel, so they can enjoy the community. We want to reach folks of all ages and interests, while helping support our community and merchants as well.”

Red, White and Tahoe Blue’s local economic impact is as much as $4 million annually, Smith said, considering it draws people across the nation and world to Incline Village and Crystal Bay.

Another example of added quality is the July 4 Wine & Dine on the Grove event. Formerly called “Wine & Cheese,” the event from 5-7:30 p.m. at Aspen Grove features new wines, and food prepared by Chef Chris Daniel of Big Water Grille, along with live classical music.

“We want to bring better value in experience for those who enjoy fine wine and food,” Smith said.

Still, despite all the upgrades this year, Smith and Lantis both know the most spectacular of events will be Friday night’s fireworks show.

“It will be a lot larger show than last year. Now, it probably never will be the largest show in the United States, but we can be the most unique and unusual show you’ll ever see,” Lantis said. “With this wonderful lake, the mountains behind it, and a beach to sit on, it’s a show that nobody else has anywhere.”

To learn more about the eighth-annual festival and a full lineup of events, visit

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