NYE blog: Hugs, kisses and a glimmer of hope for 2013

Thousands of men, women and children from around the world hugged and kissed on the Strip as fireworks lit up the sky at midnight, popping in synchronized sparks from the rooftops of the Venetian and Treasure Island.

After the show was over, a mob of people was briefly blocked from streaming back into the Venetian when a fence gate jammed in front of the casino. Finally, the gate opened and revelers slipped through.

“We’re going over the fiscal cliff one by one,” a woman yelled, making a reference to a breakthrough in faraway Washington, D.C., where the Senate rang in the new year by passing a fiscal cliff bill.

– Alan Snel

12:35 a.m.: Police say revelers well behaved; few arrests reported

With hundreds of thousands of people taking to the Strip and downtown to celebrate New Year’s Eve Monday night, Las Vegas police said revelers were mostly well behaved. Shortly before midnight Tuesday, police only arrested 13 people, 10 of whom were detained near Fremont Street.

Police spokesman Bill Cassell said the crowds were not unruly. The most serious crimes stemmed from two domestic violence arrests on the Strip. In those instances, nobody was seriously hurt.

“Right now we are on track for a very orderly, peaceful New Year’s,” Cassell said.

He added: “Nobody’s doing anything goofy.”

FULL STORY: Las Vegas revelers party mostly in peace, www.lvrj.com/news/las-vegas-revelers-party-mostly-in-peace-185352371.html

– Antonio Planas

12:17 a.m.: Children in strollers towed to party on the Strip

Among the drunken revelry and stumbling shenanigans of partying tourists, the squeaking wheels of strollers was hard to miss.

As many swung their glasses in celebratory cheers, others fastened the seat belts of their children and pulled blankets over the entirety of strollers as the air continued to chill and the clock ticked closer to midnight.

Although New Years Eve, and Las Vegas, is often perceived as an adult only crowd, parents refused this notion tonight, many bringing their children out through the entire evening, even to see the fireworks at midnight.

Midnight: Fireworks blast over Strip as partyers welcome 2013

New Year’s Eve fireworks exploded above the Strip at midnight as Las Vegas welcomed 2013.

The show was scheduled to last about eight minutes, accompanied by a medley of popular music.

11:40 p.m.: Dancing brings smiles – for awhile

Miguel Parra brought a blue cooler on wheels that was converted into a music boom box, set up shop in the middle of the street between The Mirage and Harrah’s and invited revelers to dance to the music.

Navin Rangarajan, 28, from India entered the ring and did a hip-hop dance move.

“The music made me do it,” Rangarajan said.

Then a roly-poly dude named Pancho entered the makeshift dance pit and moonwalked on the pavement.

People chanted, “Happy feet, happy feet, happy feet,” as Pancho did his steps.

But then police shut down the dance scene.

“We were having too much fun,” said a woman who was a close family member of Miguel Parra.

11:35 p.m.: Free hugs for those bold enough to ask

Four guys from Dubai – Khalid, Salah, Tom and Sam – were holding “Free Hug” signs and doling embraces to anyone who walked into their arms in front of The Mirage.

There was 29-year-old Justin “The Hugger” Cervantes of Chino Hills, Calif., who took them up on their free hug offer.

“Justin believes in Santa. He has a big heart for hugs,” said Crevantes; sister-in-law, Victoria.

Then 15-year-old Ricardo Roman wearing a Panda ski cap hugged the Dubai Four.

“It’s good for everyone,” Roman said of the hugs. “Everyone should get a hug, don’t you think? It shows respect to the other race. It shows you care.”

11:35 p.m.: Couple carries on a tradition at a favorite spot

For a dozen years, Don Delay and his wife Del have come early to the Strip and set up chairs in front of The Venetian to watch the fireworks. They were there at 10:30 p.m. as the crowd began to swell.

“Ten minutes before the fireworks, people stream out of the casinos and The Strip will be packed,” Del Delay said.

She nursed a silver flask of spiced rum, which she used to keep herself warm.

11:27 p.m.: Las Vegas parks it for the fireworks show

New Year’s Eve as a valet attendant is quite the contrast to the rest of the Las Vegas party.

The busier the Strip gets, the quieter the valet booth becomes.

At Circus Circus, valet parking was full before 6 p.m., and with most people staying put until at least midnight, that status hasn’t changed much through the night.

That makes for a slow night on what is otherwise the Strip’s biggest night of the year.

Valets like Terrance Peterson at the Circus Circus have to pass the time between helping an occasional guest, and people watching seems to be the pastime of choice.

“It’s interesting to how far people will come,” Peterson said of all the different kinds of tourists who have traveled from all over.

But Peterson knows that it’s the lull before an inevitable storm.

Once the fireworks are over, and the Strip quiets, he fully expects some automotive chaos as people rush to get home.

– Colton Lochhead

10:30 p.m.: Photo ops with working cops: ‘It’s interesting’

The increased police presence on The Strip might seem a bit intimidating to most.

But it’s hard to be intimidating when those officers are posing for picture after picture with eager tourists decked out in New Year’s Eve gear.

“It just comes in waves,” said Officer Chris Hall after having a photo snapped of him and his partner Chris Schallipp in from of their squad car.

“One person catches on, and then they all catch on,” he said.

So why a photo with the local police?

Sandrea Reveles, 20, of Santa Anna, California summed it up simply, smiling and saying ‘It’s interesting.’

– Colton Lochhead

10:24 p.m.: Plastic bottles working to reduce party mess

The ban on beverages in glass hasn’t been an issue this New Year’s Eve surprisingly.

In fact, it’s been a non-issue for Metro, and part of that could be that stores are doing their part to crack down on the mess of broken glass after the partying is all said and done.

The Walgreens on the north side of the Strip, for example, sheeted off and signed all glass-bottled alcohol and will only sell products in plastic containers.

– Colton Lochhead

10:15 p.m.: Messages of salvation delivered in midst of drunken revelry

As drunken tourists taunted, sounded horns and cursed, 10-year-old Elias Guiterrez continued reading the message of Salvation from The Bible. Just a few feet away, Elias father, mother, and three sisters stood, passing out flyers and holding signs that proclaimed “Trust Jesus.”

Adrian Guitterez said he and his family have come out to the Las Vegas Strip for the past five New Year’s Eve celebrations. Although Adrian also preaches from the sidewalk on the Bellagio every Saturday, he said that New Year’s Eve is the biggest crowd to reach.

“Sometimes people throw beer and ice, they act meanly but I don’t respond, he said. His ultimate message is to be available and remind others that God exists. The majority of people he speaks with approach him.

– Tara Verderosa

10:00 p.m.: Fireworks, bright lights attract families to Strip

Las Vegas. Not usually thought of as a traditional family destination when it comes to New Year’s Eve.

But come down to The Strip and you’ll find a completely different story.

Families have flocked to Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve this year, a stark contrast to the reputation of drunken debauchery that we’ve become known for.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Adrian Sanchez, 21, of Modesto, California.

For Sanchez, it is his first New Year’s Eve on the Strip, and he and several members of his family have made the trek.

So what’s so fun for the kids down on the Strip?

For Long Beach, California resident Penny Jimenez, 15, who is here with her parents and younger siblings, the bright lights of the casinos and the Vegas-only fireworks show make it worth the trip.

– Colton Lochhead

9:45 p.m.: Cosmo hopping for the barefoot, and the well-heeled

People at the Cosmopolitan hotel were all black dresses and bunny ears on New Year’s Eve.

Some women ditched high heels as early as 9 p.m., choosing bare feet over sore toes.

But not Jen Unbe. Unbe – cofounder of Toronto punk band The Unbelievers – was slamming in an electric-blue dress and exquisitely detailed tattoos.

“It’s my first vacation in years,” Unbe said, beaming. “I said, ‘I’m going to treat myself to Vegas.'”

Not far from her were Karl and Rachel Mcauley, in tux and wedding dress. They flew in from Birmingham, England, to get married Monday at Chapel of the Flowers.

The groom’s biggest non-wedding thrill: Looking for Bellagio spots where Julia Roberts swaggered in “Oceans Eleven.”

“We walked down the street from Caesars and everyone was, like, ‘Woohoohoo!’ Totally bizarre,” Karl Mcauley said. “You only get this in Vegas.”

And hotel workers waited for midnight madness

“At 12 o’clock, I’ll get all the fun,” a Cosmo worker said. “Everybody will be flashing.”

– Doug Elfman

9:45 p.m.: Once-in-a-lifetime party for some is a familiar job for police

Sheriff Doug Gillespie walked the Strip Monday night, shaking hands with passersby and checking in with cops, who had been planning for this New Year’s Eve since a week after last year’s event.

“We critique things we see that night, and end up planning it different every year,” Gillespie said.

This year, one struggle they faced was building and supervising around the construction of the Imperial Palace, which is located in the middle of the Strip near Harrah’s Las Vegas and Caesars Palace.

“Tonight we’re mobilized,” Gillespie said. “Everybody is working. But this isn’t new. We do it every year.”

– Tara Verderosa

9:45 p.m.: Vegas an easy sell for novelty vendors

Aj haneefah, a graphic designer from L.A., set up shop in front of New York-New York. He said he comes to Las Vegas every year to sell memorabilia for the new year. This was his fourth year, this time selling light up glasses, sunglasses and wristbands.

“It’s the element of Vegas,” he said. “The people, the atmosphere and the vibe make it worth coming down.”

– Tara Verderosa

9:20 p.m.: A bit of the bubbly, in the name of science, of course

Call it the champagne experiment, Vegas style.

Erin Coates and Michael Beck were the ringleaders for their own mini-street party in front of Harrah’s on the Las Vegas Strip, offering revelers a healthy dose of champagne from a 1 1/2-gallon plastic container. Six bottles

of champagne were poured into the container adorned with roosters, happy faces and the word, “celebrate.”

“We’re doing this for science because we’re scientists,” quipped Beck, 42, of Las Vegas.

The duo used noisemakers to get celebrants’ attention and some accepted their offer, including Jose Gonzalez and Alan Jackson.

Coates, 27, of Las Vegas, held the container above Gonzalez’s mouth and let the champagne fly.

After Gonzalez, who came via skateboard, swallowed a few mouthfuls, he asked, “That was alcohol? I thought that was apple juice.”

Next up was the robust Jackson, wearing a colorful joker’s headgear. He also enjoyed the free champagne and wished all a happy New Year’s as he left with his pals.

A group of walkers holding giant Jesus signs came strolling by and Beck tried to entice them to grab a champagne drink.

“This is water that we turned to champagne,” Beck told the religious sign-holders,

But they ignored the offer and continued their walk down The Strip.

– Alan Snel

9:20 p.m.: Light-up eyeglasses a spectacle for partygoers

The brother-sister duo of Efrain and Zaira Botello were doing a brisk business selling light-up eyeglasses, Mohawks, rabbit ears and necklaces.

Efrain, a senior from San Fernando High School in California, expected to sell out the three dozen of each item that was selling for 10 bucks a piece.

“This is big, fun, amazing,” Efrain said in between sales in front of the Flamingo. “We’ll sell out and we’ll also cherish the moment.”

– Alan Snel

9:20 p.m.: Viking fashions grab attention, maybe not as intended

Noel Alvarado and his mother Cynthia were selling blinking Viking hats for a few minutes at the Flamingo intersection when a sheriff’ deputy put an end to the business.

“You can’t set up shop. You have to move,” the deputy told the pair.

“Let’s go,” the son told his mom, pushing a baby carriage transformed into a cart filled with blinking Viking hats.

“We’re going to Paris,” he said and off they went, pushing their carts toward the casino, not the City of Lights.

– Alan Snel

9:20 p.m.: Roadtrip from Canada turns party, America-style

At 38 degrees under the Fremont Street canopy it was a bit too warm for Marty “the Pimp” Pritchard. When he and his ladies in red left Edmonton, Alberta two days ago the Canucks were shivering at minus 36 degrees.

Monday night was his 55th birthday so they bought some Roaring ’20s costumes and headed for the bright lights of Las Vegas.

“I have four lovely ladies with me and they garner all my attention,” he said.

Tagging along was “junior pimp” Jamie Delaney, 27, originally from Newfoundland.

“They got these flapper girl outfits and we said, ‘Let’s go to Vegas and do it,'” Delaney said, sipping a rum and Coke.

His New Year’s resolution: “Drink more and more next year.”

– Keith Rogers

8:38 p.m.: Showgirls embrace spotlight as celebration builds at Fremont Street Experience

Ah, Vegas loves its showgirls, especially on New Year’s Eve.

Jeff Wilson, of Geneva, Ohio, wanted to pose with some Vegas showgirls and he got his chance Monday night on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

“I’m sending this back to my boys,” Wilson said with arms wrapped around thinly clad Mallory Huck and Julie Langille who are dancers in real life.

But on Monday night they donned showgirl outfits, headdress feathers and all.

“It’s New Year’s. It’s Las Vegas. We want to promote showgirls and the comeback of Las Vegas, and wish everybody in the whole wide world Happy New Year!” said Langille.

– Keith Rogers

8:15 p.m.: 2013 Baby New Year commands attention at Fremont Street Experience

That’s a big 2013 baby, Vegas!

At the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas, the New Year was rolling in like a tank, as in Ronnie “Tank” Campbell, a 315-pound truck driver from Fayetteville, N.C. Wearing only a diaper, top hat and white 2013 sash across his chest, he posed for pictures with a bowl for tips.

“I won first prize in the Halloween costume contest six times so I thought I’d come to Vegas and be the New Year’s baby,” he said, taking a sip from his big baby bottle filled with piña colada.

His wife, Nicole, 32, shook her head with a smile.

“It’s crazy, but I figure it would fit in Las Vegas,” she said about their decision to drive West for the holidays in his 18-wheel “car hauler.”

“He said, ‘How much money do you think I can make?’ But really, we’re just here to have fun.”

After an hour and a half Ronnie had raked in “about thirty bucks,” enough for another round of piña coladas.

– Keith Rogers

8:10 p.m.: Mobile vendors bring flash to the party

A parade of New Year’s Eve vendors carrying all sorts of flashing gear, including lit-up swords, vuvuzelas, air horns and the usual glittery hats and blinking 2013 glasses, wandered the Strip.

The mobile vendors not only could be seen, but thanks to their horns and vuvuzelas, could be heard as well.

Most kept moving, but a few strategically stationed themselves in front of Porta Potties, knowing full well that the crowd was sure to line up there at some point.

– Colton Lochhead

8:10 p.m.: It’s a Circus out there, and police are patrolling the Strip

The Strip between Sahara Avenue and Desert Inn Road isn’t the craziest area for New Year’s parties, but the local police patrolling around Circus Circus and The Riviera, weren’t taking it lightly.

“People don’t know where they’re going,” said a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer, who along with other officers said they would be patrolling the area “until it dies down.”

Weather seemed to be keeping partiers indoors with temperatures dipping into the low 30’s before midnight.

“I think they’ll stay inside until the fireworks start,” said another officer.

– Colton Lochhead

7:54 p.m.: British gather at Riviera’s Queen Victoria Pub to celebrate New Year’s Eve

The British community in Las Vegas celebrated New Year’s Eve with their friends and family at Queen Victoria Pub inside the Riviera hotel and casino on the Strip.

The pub, which advertises as the only British owned and operated pub in Las Vegas, kicked off the festivities earlier than most so patrons could celebrate the New Year on British time, which was 4 p.m. local time.

“We’ve been doing it for the last three years,” said head server Peter Grave, who hails from Yorkshire, England. “At four it was packed. Standing room only.”

Celebrations at the bar included a band covering The Beatles, the local British news coverage of the New Year’s countdown, and even a bagpiper playing until just before the British New Year.

– Colton Lochhead

6:35 p.m.: Las Vegas gears up for New Year’s Eve bash on the Strip, downtown

Happy New Year, Las Vegas, and welcome to the countdown to midnight.

Streets closed Monday night around the Las Vegas Strip and downtown’s Fremont Street Experience where more than 300,000 New Year’s Eve revelers were expected to celebrate the end of 2012 and bring in 2013.

Starting at 6:30 p.m., Las Vegas Boulevard became party central, closed to traffic and full of wandering locals and tourists from around the world. A traditional fireworks show at midnight will usher in the new year.

Inside the casinos, big-name acts including The Black Keys, The Killers and Pitbull were helping ring in the new year Monday. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were performing a sold-out show at the Cosmopolitan’s Chelsea Ballroom that will be broadcast live on the casino’s 65-foot marquee to partiers on the Strip below. Beyonce will give an invitation-only performance in the Wynn’s 1,500-seat-amphitheater.

Other casinos are touting pricey nightclub bashes with $3,000 bottle service and open bars, hosted by reality TV and music celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Nicki Minaj and Brandy.

Outside, for the hardy souls, temperatures were expected to drop to 35 degrees Fahrenheit around midnight, then below freezing by 3 a.m., said the National Weather Service, which predicted clear skies with mild winds.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority predicted New Year’s Eve celebrants would pump $209.9 million into the economy in one night, not counting what gamblers drop on the city’s games of chance.

The Strip will be closed from just south of Tropicana Avenue to south of Sahara Avenue along with most cross streets. To cross the Strip on New Year’s Eve, Sahara as well as Russell and Desert Inn roads will remain open.

All moving walkways, elevators and escalators leading to or crossing Las Vegas Boulevard also are shut down to accommodate the roving, liquor-imbibing crowds. They resume operation at 12:15 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Eastbound and westbound routes across the Strip should reopen by 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, or as soon as Las Vegas Boulevard has been cleaned by street sweepers, working from south to north.

For those planning to celebrate downtown at the Fremont Street Experience, street closures include: Casino Center, Fourth Street and Fremont, between Las Vegas Boulevard and Sixth Street.

Closures began around noon on New Year’s Eve. Streets will reopen at 5 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

– Laura Myers

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