STATELINE -- As many as 60,0000 people are expected tonight to jam the casino corridor here -- and a half-dozen law enforcement agencies will be on hand to deal with them.
Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini said he expects about the same number of people as last year to pack the area along Highway 50. The 2001 holiday brought out a record 60,000 people, up 10,000 from the previous year.
"If we all had our druthers, this thing would have gone away a long time ago," said Pierini, who has been on hand as a law-enforcement officer for every celebration on the South Shore since 1976.
Loud firecrackers, bare breasts and fist fights were common last year, but injuries and arrests were reported as minor and minimal. About 100 people are arrested each year.
"Most people just come to have a good time, and we leave it as such," Pierini said.
Officers from Douglas County, Carson City, South Lake Tahoe, California Highway Patrol and El Dorado County will help try to keep the peace, and staff from Nevada State Prison help take those who don't go to jail.
In addition, casino security guards spend a busy night trying to keep under-age partiers out of the gaming rooms.
"Anybody under 18, parents should keep kids away from Stateline," Pierini advised. "There's a large number who are juveniles, who have no business there. Control kids and keep them away from Stateline."
Some revelers were gearing up early for the celebration.
Ski Run Liquor Manager Johnna Cristando pointed to her shelves where she's sold out of some types of liquor like scotch and tequila.
"Looks like people are buying the good stuff," she said.
Mike Francoeur of Dart Discount Liquors also has noticed an increase in liquor sales.
"The sales are starting to rev up for the holiday," Francoeur said.
Still, he wonders what effect the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will have on sales and consumption.
"September 11th had an effect on everybody," Francoeur said. "The real question is whether they'll stay after New Year's."
In the meantime, South Lake hotels and motels were having a busy holiday week after seven weeks of being in a lull, the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association reported.
"Right now, we're enjoying a fine week," outgoing association President Charlie McDermid said Thursday. McDermid is selling out rooms over the holiday with a strong showing through next week.
"This is as good as it gets. We've got the best of all possible conditions -- skiable slopes and driveable roads," he said.
Cathy Colbert of Inn by the Lake said she anticipates a sellout holiday too, adding it's "nice to see" the traffic.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe also reports rooms are booked solid through the holiday.
Drunken driving statistics compiled by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
-- 323 people died in accidents on Nevada Highways in 2000, of those deaths, 145 or 44.8 percent were alcohol related.
-- In the United States on New Year's Eve 2000 there were 149 fatal car accidents, of those, 75 or 50.3 percent were alcohol related.
-- On New Year's Day 2000 there were 163 fatal car accidents, of those, 114 or 69.6 percent were alcohol related.
-- Conviction of a first offense DUI in a seven year period is a misdemeanor punishable by a minimum of two days and a maximum of six months in jail, a fine of not more than $1,000 and suspension of your license for three months. Offenders are required to complete a course on alcohol abuse and attend a Victim Impact Panel at their cost.
-- Conviction of a second offense DUI in a seven year period is a misdemeanor punishable by a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of six months in jail, a fine of not more than $1,000 and suspension of your license for one year.
-- Conviction of a third offense DUI in a seven year period is a felony offense punishable by a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of six years in prison and a fine of not more than $5,000.