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Circus acts, live music and food set at Sundown Downtown

The Las Vegas Natural History Museum, 900 Las Vegas Blvd. North, typically draws families to its exhibits, especially when school is out of session for the summer. But the museum hopes to entice a different crowd with its first Sundown in Downtown event, planned from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday .

"This is a different kind of event from anything we've ever done before," executive director Marilyn Gillespie said. "Most of the events we've done are with children. With Sundown in Downtown, we wanted to appeal to an adult audience."

The event, designed for those 21 or older, is set to feature a circus carnival theme with live entertainment, food and cocktails from various downtown restaurants. All-inclusive tickets are $55 per person or $100 per couple, with proceeds benefiting the museum's educational programs.

Gillespie said she aims to make Sundown in Downtown different from the Dinosaur Ball, the museum's annual fundraising event.

"The Dinosaur Ball is a black-tie, very formal event that we usually hold at one of the hotels on the Strip," Gillespie said. "(Sundown in Downtown) is very laid back. We made the event very high-energy, lots of fun, very accessible and reasonable price-wise."

Local bands Kid Meets Cougar and Wild Card are slated to perform, and circus acts, such as fire dancers, fortunetellers and jugglers, are expected to line the path from inside of the museum out to the adjacent Heritage Park. Gillespie said having attendees spend time on the museum grounds at night creates an experience different from a usual day visit.

"I think people are going to be surprised," Gillespie said. "They'll see the bridge and the neon element at night. There's also a very large dinosaur sculpture on the side of our building that people might miss during the day."

Mickey Norton, event coordinator and museum board member, said Sundown in Downtown aims to show attendees another side of the museum and downtown with which they may be unfamiliar.

"We're looking for a fun way to kick off summer and bring back the crowd we kind of lost to the museum," Norton said. "The museum is always changing, and there are always different things happening. I think people forget that (exhibits) are always turning."

Gillespie expects more than 300 attendees for Sundown in Downtown, which she hopes will not only help raise funds for educational programs but also awareness of downtown .

"We feel like it's important to help promote downtown," Gillespie said. "The museum has been a pioneer in the downtown area for more than 20 years. I think most communities see downtown as an asset, and (although) Las Vegas is a little late in doing that, it's becoming a hub, more pedestrian-friendly, and I'm glad to see that happening here."

For more information on Sundown in Downtown, call 384-2008 or visit

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at or 383-4686.