Weather thins New Year’s crowd
STATELINE – New Year’s Eve crowds here – that normally average between 50,000 to 65,000 revelers – were sparse Friday night as another storm moved into the Sierra.
As of 10 p.m., Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini estimated there were only a few thousand people on the streets and wasn’t sure just how many to expect by the time the clock hit midnight.
“We have never had the snow like this,” Pierini said from his department’s new $250,000 mobile command center parked near the Horizon Casino Resort. The department brought in the command center, funded through the Homeland Security Act, to work the kinks out for a normally boisterous New Year’s Eve at Stateline, a tradition for at least 20 years.
Authorities had estimated the crowd to be around 65,000 for New Year’s Eve at Stateline.
That was before the storm hit.
Snow moved back into the Lake Tahoe Basin late Friday and is expected to continue today.
Still, revelers who showed up donned party hats, tooted horns and occasionally broke into boisterous shouts. At 10 p.m. Pierini said only one arrest had been made, and at least one man had a bottle of Jack Daniels taken from him by deputies.
El Dorado County Sheriff Lt. Les Lovell predicted the crowd would be half the previous estimate or less. Pierini didn’t want to venture a guess. Law officers began setting up barricades for traffic at around 9 p.m.
“We re-route traffic at 9 p.m. to provide for the safety of the pedestrians,” said Richard Mirgon, director of Douglas County Emergency Management.
Revelers were composed mainly of young people in their 20s.
Around 9 p.m. San Francisco resident Jack Cross, 25, was heading back to his motel room for a party before the Stateline party with a friend who went by the name of Jolly B.
They planned to return to Stateline for the festivities.
“They close off streets, there’s lots of drunk people and lots of girls,” Jolly B said.
“Everybody’s having a good time,” Cross said.
Reveler Kelsey McVay, 17, of Sebastopol, Calif., wasn’t in town primarily for the New Year’s celebration, but for snow sports.
“I’m here for snow boarding, definitely,” said McVay, who had received a snowboard for Christmas.
The snow began falling around 9 p.m. Most revelers were clad in parkas and sweatshirts, but one woman wearing a dress and a coat with fur-like trim, held a plastic bag from Raley’s over her head, as a shield from the snow.
Tahoe Daily Tribune city editor Jeff Munson contributed to this report.