If you're a local, there's a good chance you've said, "I hate the Strip."
And why not? There's so much to hate. Heavy, crazy traffic that begets bad driving habits among the natives. Tourists clogging up doorways, sidewalks, restaurants, showrooms. So many tourists that a local can't throw a rock without hitting one. Wait, that might not be such a bad thing.
But you get the point. Locals have proclaimed their burning hatred of all things Strip, wearing it like a badge of honor, so often, it has become cliche.
The Las Vegan who says something that could be construed as evidence that they actually like the Strip, well, that person is branded a special kind of nut. Right?
We know you don't really mean it, though. In many ways, the Strip is like that old high school flame you fell in love with because he or she was so quirky. Unique, wild. After a while, that stuff just gets annoying. Irritating. Almost hateable. But that old flame had some great qualities, you just need to be reminded of them. And so, too, does the Strip.
There are the obvious reasons to love it: great restaurants, new casinos, world-class entertainment. And then there are the other qualities you've forgotten. Or never even knew.
Following is a list of 10 reasons to love the Strip. So embrace it. Appreciate it.
All those tourists spend money.
Yes, it's loathsome to travel on the Strip most of the time, either by foot or car. Traffic is too heavy, adding an automatic delay to any journey within the Strip's proximity. Even when traffic is light, you still have to deal with drivers who are busy looking at everything but the road. It's so annoying, isn't it? We feel your pain. We do. But turn that frown upside down and see the Strip in a new light. Those people who are so inconveniently in your way? They may as well be made of gold. Without them, the Strip would not have its raison d'être: to provide jobs to locals. It may seem like all those casinos are there to give gamblers a place to "spend" their money but really, they're for you. All for you.
Tourists know their place.
What do locals hate more than the Strip? Tourists. So the Strip is good because it concentrates all the tourists in one convenient place, thus reducing our odds of encountering one. Using the reasoning that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," the Strip is a tourist-hating local's best friend.
Pedestrian bridges take us out of harm's way.
Before 1998, if you wanted to cross the Strip on foot from west to east or east to west, you did one of two things: Waited at a crosswalk with a gaggle of tourists until it was safe to pass. Or you darted into traffic, "Frogger"-style, jaywalking. Either way, people were, well, in the way. And if you think traffic on the Strip is slow now, imagine what it was like with hundreds of tipsy tourists walking in front of stalled traffic as though they didn't have a care in the world. So as a local, you've got to have a special kind of love reserved for those pedestrian bridges; they lift the people up and over some of the busiest intersections in the valley. And in turn, they lift your spirits when you're not stuck in traffic and you can cross the street without fear for your life.
Drinking is colorful.
Where would mankind be without refillable, yard-long margaritas? Or football glasses full of beer? Yes, you can get things like that downtown, but we're 99 percent certain that the only place you can get a full-sized hollow, plastic guitar filled with booze is on the Strip. And that's cool.
The lights are pretty.
The people are weird. Oh, the people you'll meet walking the street along Las Vegas Boulevard (apologies to Dr. Seuss).
Few places in this world will provide the kind of people-watching you can do on the Strip. It's not uncommon to see Darth Vader hanging out on the sidewalk in front of Bally's. Or a dominatrix walking into a convention center when the Adult Entertainment Expo is in town.
The world's biggest, splashiest baby sitter is at our beck and call.
If it weren't for the Strip, what would locals do with their out-of-town visitors? You can always send the in-laws to the Strip for a day and know that they will come back exhausted, so tired that they won't hassle you to entertain them or take them out and show them a good time. Of course, if it weren't for the Strip, maybe those visitors wouldn't visit so much. But sometimes you can overthink a concept.
Free entertainment is abundant.
A savvy local knows how to have a good time on the Strip without paying much more than gasoline money to get down there. Where else are you going to see a volcano explode, pirates fight, marble statues come to life or lion cubs frolic in a casino? Nowhere. That we know of.
We do have a cultural epicenter. If you've lived here for any length of time, you've probably heard, or even asked, "Where's the culture?"
Maybe it's not the type of culture you were thinking of, but really, were you specific? The very fabric of Las Vegas is comprised of all these little elements: Riviera's Crazy Girls butt statue; handbillers flicking cards that advertise hot girls to your room, fast; O'Shea's Mr. Lucky the leprechaun; the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign; and some nice paintings at Bellagio. Combine all that in a pot, add some dancing water and you have a soup that is uniquely ours. Mmm, nutrition for the soul.
Celebrity hunting is our big-league sport.
On any given weekend, there's a strong chance you can see the reality star of your dreams getting drunk and partying down in a Strip nightclub. If movie stars or athletes are more your style, you can get an eyeful at Madame Tussauds wax museum. Tiger Woods is there, Shaquille O'Neal is there. Evander Holyfield is there, with a damaged ear. How much more realistic can you get? Other than the real people, that is. And you have the Strip to thank for that. Thank you, Strip.
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@ reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564.