315,000 tourists welcome 2010 Las Vegas style
LAS VEGAS (AP) – Sin City welcomed some 315,000 revelers for New Year’s Eve with fireworks from casino rooftops, celebrity toasts at nightclubs and a traffic-free Las Vegas Strip.
The downtown Fremont Street Experience – which easily sold out with 30,000 partiers last year – hoped to reach its expanded capacity of 35,000 as it hosted a party with nine bands and a countdown by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.
Tourism officials said they expected the city’s 148,000 hotel rooms to be 96 percent full as casinos slash prices to get more people in town.
The agency, which promotes tourism to Las Vegas, estimated revelers would spend $183.4 million, down from $199.5 million last year.
Bundled-up revelers began trickling in at 6 p.m. for a block party with nine bands and plenty of street-side bars. Bartenders flipped shakers and danced on the bar, while a U2 tribute band sang “Beautiful Day”.
Elsa Valenzuela, a 27-year-old third-grade teacher from Victorville, Calif., said that despite graduating from high school and college during the last 10 years, she’s glad to move on from the past decade.
“The horrible outfits, the bad hair,” she said as she and her boyfriend wore matching novelty hats and beads. “I really think it’s just more like thinking ahead on the possibilities and the good that we can do and the changes that we can make.”
David Fraley, 56, of Las Vegas, said he’s also ready to get away from the aughts.
“This decade’s over, let’s get a better one going,” said Fraley, who said he lost his job as a supermarket liquor clerk in March.
“My wish is a job. I’ve been laid off. I need work,” he said, sporting glasses that displayed “2010” in blue lights.
On the Strip, actress Eva Longoria was scheduled to host at Eve nightclub at CityCenter, the newest casino complex in town. Other celebrity hosts at various clubs included rapper 50 Cent, singer Robin Thicke, Nicole Ritchie and Maroon 5, while DJs Mix Master Mike, Jermaine Dupri and DJ Z-Trip were scheduled to spin.
Las Vegas Boulevard was closed to vehicles from the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino to the Sahara.
At midnight, more than seven minutes of fireworks were to be shot from seven casinos on the Strip, stretching more than four miles from the MGM Grand to the Stratosphere. The show cost an estimated $500,000 and was brought back to the rooftops after a toned-down fireworks show last year was panned by tourists, city officials and casino executives.
Gone from the festivities were stunts. Last year, three stunts were performed in Las Vegas as part of television specials. This year, television networks Fox, ABC and CNN all planned New Year’s Eve programming from Las Vegas.
In downtown Reno, several casinos pooled efforts to bring back fireworks in hopes the display would add excitement and encourage more visitors. The tradition went on hiatus last year as companies tried to save money.
They planned a $65,000, 15-minute show with Michael Jackson-themed music.