Tahoe celebrates with ‘millennia madness’
STATELINE – New Year’s revelers crowded the strip at Stateline in South Tahoe at the stroke of midnight for a “millennia madness” party that police said was not as raucous as in years past.
“We’re just getting ready for the after-party,” one officer said.
A 14-year-old South Tahoe High School student decided to take advantage of the event’s profit potential by selling glow-in-the-dark necklaces.
“My friends and I ordered them and are selling them for a profit,” Jared Marquez said.” Although this is his first year in the necklace business, Marquez said that by early evening he was “doing pretty well.”
Phyllis and Saleem Khatri, a mother and son pair from Milpitas, Calif., made their hotel reservations in advance, anticipating the possibility that all the rooms in town would fill up quickly.
“I was afraid we weren’t going to get anything, so it cost me $1,500 for three days,” Phyllis said. “But it was worth it.”
Saleem said they were on their way to see the country band Brooks and Dunn. “We were hoping to get tickets for Penn and Teller tomorrow, but they are the only real show in town for the 1st, and of course they are sold out.”
College-age revelers in their teens and 20s spent most of the early evening traveling between the casinos near Stateline. Inside Harrah’s the card tables and slot machines were jammed.
“I blew two bills so far,” said Trevor Thompson, a UC Berkeley student. “What the heck – a night like this doesn’t come along too often.”
In the casinos, large security crews were checking IDs and looking for troublemakers. A few businesses boarded up their windows as a precaution.
High-rolling gamblers David and Mary Houge of Los Gatos, Calif., said the possibility of an unruly crowd on the streets outside the casinos ensured they’d stay inside and take their chances with the card and dice tables and slot machines.
”I won’t go out in the street,” said Houge, who turns 54 on New Year’s Day. ”It just gets too rowdy.”
The Houges said their luck was holding up so well that they didn’t want to leave Harrah’s hotel-casino anyway. ”I won $20,000 on the $5 slot machines,” said Mary Houge. ”And David won $3,000 playing blackjack.”
The Houges weren’t alone in dressing in formal dinner attire for the evening. Others opted for the outlandish.
”We just wanted to go into the New Year like idiots,” said Robert Pyne of Fair Oaks, Calif., who with a few of his friends, all in their early 20s, wore big Afro wigs. He went a step further, dressing up in a red silk suit.
Matt Holle, 22, of Los Angeles, sporting a balloon hat, said he and several friends came to Tahoe ”just to have fun,” and that included joining in the street scene. ”But mainly we came to snowboard and ski.”
Across the lake at Squaw Valley, hundreds of people were skiing and snowboarding their way into the millennium. They zipped by the dozens of skaters who braved a stiff, cold wind to skate around an outdoor rink near the summit of the mountain.
Liz Chiba, a New Year’s Day baby who turns 16 today, said she wanted to do something different.
”It’s the millennium and such a big event,” she said.
Associated Press writer Brendan Riley contributed to this report.