Hundreds of people stood in front of the Las Vegas Boulevard entrance of Caesars Palace Tuesday afternoon, eager to catch a glimpse of Ellen DeGeneres.
That moment never came, at least not as they expected.
By 2 p.m., hours after the first participants arrived, word had started to spread like molasses throughout the now-disappointed crowd that the talk-show host was in Los Angeles.
“Everyone thinks Ellen is gonna be here,” said a security guard. “But, she’s in her air-conditioned studio.”
The participants’ reactions ranged from shock to anger, the guard, who did not want to be identified, said.
On social media, DeGeneres advertised the Strip taping of the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” by calling those in Las Vegas to come to the front of the hotel-casino.
“Hope you’re ready, Vegas! You’ve got 1 hour to get to the Strip by @CaesarsPalace. Someone is winning a big prize & it could be you,” she tweeted.
At least twice, the show’s Twitter account mentioned the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A spokesman for the school could not determine her affiliation, and at the taping, no mention was made about the university, although many wore UNLV caps and T-shirts.
One UNLV fan learned about the taping by reading a sign near Caesars on his morning run.
“It’s a little misleading,” Larry Mahoney said of the hype surrounding the taping. He and his wife, Sandy Mahoney, were among those confused by the presence of advertisements and the absence of DeGeneres.
Mahoney said once attendees discovered the taping was only a part of the episode that airs Wednesday, they started to leave.
“As that word spreads, the crowd gets smaller.”
That rang true momentarily, but once producers and crew members invited the crowd to cheer for the camera, there wasn’t a place to stand in the area around the stage.
By the time the live segment began filming, the crowd had grown to its original size of about several hundred.
Signs in the sea of excited men and women read: “Ellen, I am your biggest fan, let’s dance,” “Ballerinas love Ellen,” “Be kind to one another” and “Ellen, Valley High School loves you!”
As the camera swung over each section of the crowd, the people echoed that affinity as they screamed and shouted, “We love you, Ellen.”
Finally, the moment all had been waiting for, an appearance by DeGeneres, happened about 4 p.m.
It wasn’t in real-life, but elation radiated from those gathered around big-screen TVs, watching the host live from her studio.
“I don’t think you should worry about the fear of missing out,” she said. “So, forget everything, and let’s dance.”
The crowd no longer feared missing out on her appearance, and instead followed her direction by throwing their hands in the air and moving their bodies to “Cake by the Ocean” by DNCE.
As attitudes began to change, three women climbed onto a platform in the center to answer trivia questions for the chance to win a Chevy Malibu.
With each unanswered question and incorrect answer, the floor beneath the women gave out, and each fell through.
“I’m sorry, you have to come down,” DeGeneres said before releasing the door for the last woman standing — even though she’d come up with all the answers and won the burgundy sedan.
Silver and blue confetti rained over the hundreds standing on Las Vegas Boulevard, and the crowd erupted in cheers.
Not everyone waited to see the happy ending.
An hour before DeGeneres’ voice came over the TVs and speakers in the casino courtyard, a fed-up group from Idaho walked away.
“I’m really bummed,” said Amber Genta. “She tricked us.” Her friend agreed.
“I’m probably never going to watch the show again,” said Mike Gatlin.