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Life Is Beautiful festival delivers on downtown promise


Organizers, merchants and downtown supporters are singing praises after the inaugural weekend of the Life Is Beautiful festival.

“They delivered the product they promised,” said attorney Dayvid Figler, a downtown activist and author.

Business owners and music lovers were ecstatic after the two-day event, which saw 15 blocks closed off Saturday and Sunday.

Alex Epstein, executive vice president of the El Cortez, said she got emotional at the sight of so many new faces discovering the downtown revival.

“We certainly had a record for a completely new demographic,” she said. “They (the organizers) followed through. They delivered. It was transformative.”

Epstein said it also may have been historic.

She attended The  Killers ’ closing-night performance because, “from what I’ve heard, it might be one of their last shows together.”

Bassist Mark Stoermer quit the Asia leg of the group’s Battle Born global tour last month, and bandmate Dave Keuning was quoted as saying, “I am sick of this. I’m done. The end is in sight.”

They are scheduled to perform with Katy Perry at the MTV European Music Awards on Nov. 13 in Amsterdam.

Ryan Doherty, who owns two bars on East Fremont, the festival’s epicenter, said the festival provided downtown businesses a big boost.

His largest club, Commonwealth, was bought out on Saturday, and “we had our two best days at Park on Fremont,” which opened in April. “It was a great thing for downtown,” he said.

Figler said the event didn’t pull in capacity crowds, but the up side was “you didn’t have to wait for anything. The culinary tent was a home run. All of the vendors had come to impress, and they didn’t fail us.”

Figler and Epstein said the crowds were respectful. “We had no problems, no incidents,” Epstein said.

“Hopefully they will all come back. It was a legitimate festival,” she added.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Special tributes to rock legend Lou Reed played out in and around the festival.

The Killers, Vampire Weekend and Empire of the Sun acknowledged the passing of Reed during their shows.

Empire of the Sun paid homage by smashing a guitar on stage. Reed, co-founder and frontman of the influential Velvet Underground, died Sunday. He was 71.

Vampire Weekend band members stopped in the Atomic Liquors on Sunday before their show. They started their set with “Sunday Morning,” from the 1966 album “The Velvet Underground & Nico.”

SIGHTINGS

Shania Twain, having a late lunch with a friend Monday at Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina at The Shops at Crystals. … Former casino owner Paul Lowden, with a silent auction bid of $6,500 for an 8-week-old black Schnauzer at the Las Vegas Academy’s gala fundraiser on Monday at the Rio. He gave it to his daughter Jennifer, who named the puppy M Shadows, after the lead singer of Avenged Sevenfold. … At Life Is Beautiful: Electric Daisy Carnival founder Pasquale Rotella and his wife, Holly Madison, and actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse. … Steve and Andrea Wynn, having pizza Sunday with Marc and Janie Schorr at Pizza Rock on Third Street after taking part in the traditional first bet at the Downtown Grand.

THE PUNCH LINE

“Halloween is Thursday. I love Halloween. You open the door, and there are strangers in masks. Good idea.” — David Letterman

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas,” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.