Laura Brandt, of Silver Springs, arrived at Mills Park around 8:30 a.m. to set up camp for her extended family of 11.
While six of the Brandt clan kids ran around the park and swam in the pool, the adults spent the day eating, sitting around, drinking, listening to the radio, and even walking to Walgreen's for a $1 American T-shirt sale.
Brandt clan members Laura and Mike Fraley are particularly happy to be celebrating the fourth. Having just moved from Sacramento to Silver Springs, they have two older sons, and a younger daughter, Amanda, 11, who was born with a sealed pulmonary valve in her heart. She will need to undergo a seventh heart surgery by specialists at Sutter Memorial in California.
"Her life means everything to the family," Michael Fraley said, who has had Amanda die twice in his arms. "We try to give her the best time we really can."
Amanda was swimming happily at Mills Park pool. For Amanda, the Fourth of July means celebrating the presidents. But for surgery, it means a scary needle she doesn't like.
"I'm really grateful she's so rambunctious and high-spirited," her father said.
The Brandt clan was set up under a white canopy in the shaded part of Mills park, surrounded by half a dozen other families with the same idea for celebrating. Although the wind was blowing, Michael Fraley said the canopy would not blow away. After a dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad, the family will stay for the fireworks.
Laura Brandt, the family matriarch, said Mills Park was by far the best place for fireworks.
"I've been to Lake Tahoe, I've been too Fernley. I think they have the best fireworks here," she said. "Although the prettiest fireworks I've ever seen were off the Ormsby house."
Brothers Keith and Robbie, and Robbie's friend Dakota, had spent most of the day at the pool. Robbie said that the Fourth meant independence to him, but for the Brandt family as a whole, the Fourth was about having a good time together and celebrating life.
More than 15 to 20 uniformed officers patrolled throughout the evening to the end of the fireworks, scheduled to go off right after dusk.
"We're here to keep everyone calm and get traffic out smoothly," said Deputy Bill Richards of the Sheriff's Department. He said he expected no major problems.
At the front of Mills Park, Royal West Amusements has 14 rides, like the Super Sizzler, Cyclone, and the Kamikaze, set up. Also, there are 17 games and three food booths to entertain and feed, according to carnival manager, Mach Chris.
Kirstee McCleary, who was at the park with her parents Jim and Deborah and younger brother Conner, said she had ridden the Kamikaze "like 5,000 times."
The McCleary's were staying close to home and enjoying local things, according to father Jim, who has lived in Carson City for 36 years.
Deborah said they had been at the park for about three hours, spending a lot of money and pushing the stroller.
"We're always patriotic," she said. "I think it's important to show patriotism and to show love of the country, and to show it to the children. I think so much of our generation needs to pass that onto our children."
A beautiful breeze blew threw the park, keeping people cool.
"I think of all the people who have died, and the flag, and the fireworks," said her daughter Kirstee.
Many families and teenagers enjoyed the rides and games. Melissa Dole, 21, of Carson City, had just arrived at the park with her friend Jessie McDonald, 19, also of Carson City.
"I always celebrate the Fourth," Dole said. "I hang out with friends."
McDonald said she loves the fireworks.
The park rides open at noon today, Saturday and Sunday, and will close around 10 p.m. Sunday night. Spiderman will be on stage at noon Saturday and Sunday.
"I don't know what he's going to do," Chris, the carnival manager said. "Maybe he'll hang from the stage."
On Sunday, all mothers will ride free.
IF YOU GO
What: RSVP Carnival
When: through Sunday
Where: Mills Park