This might be another Strip show to close.
The future of the Las Vegas Walk of Stars is in peril, says its president, Bob Alexander. He’s not kidding. Alexander made this sad assessment after more than half of the stars embedded along Las Vegas Boulevard have been wiped out as part of Clark County’s project to install security bollards on the Strip.
“I hope we’re not forced to go out of business,” Alexander said in a phone interview Monday. “But we are in jeopardy of that happening. Tourists love the stars, but I’m at a loss, myself, to tell you if we can save it.”
Alexander is not engaging in hyperbole. More than half of the stars issued since the nonprofit was launched in 2004 (with Wayne Newton the first honoree) have been destroyed as protective bollards have been set up in front of Planet Hollywood and Paris Las Vegas on the east side of the Strip.
A total of 49 of 82 stars have been pulled up in a project the county began in November. There is no firm plan to re-cast the granite pieces and return them to the Strip, a process that would cost $250,000.
No location has been secured to even begin that process, either, though Alexander is meeting with Caesars Entertainment officials this week to review spaces at Linq Promenade and the Flamingo. Such famed Vegas entertainers as Newton, Liberace, Frank Marino, Sammy Davis Jr. and Elvis Presley are now absent from the stars’ walk. So are longtime Strip producers Dick Feeney (who currently produces “The Rat Pack is Back” at Tuscany Suites) and John Stuart (who founded “Legends In Concert,” currently running at the Flamingo).
Alexander says it’s conceivable to construct new stars from a company he’s contracted in Beaumont, Calif. But he does not want to face the possibility of the county or private resort company again yanking them up.
“We can’t keep risking this happening,” he says.
The county informed Alexander in late-June of its upcoming plans to install bollards to protect pedestrians on the Strip Nonetheless, he said he was surprised to hear of the massive effort that took out nearly 50 stars.
“I had been waiting five months and nothing happened,” Alexander said. “”You never know what’s going to happen with the county.”
But Marino, who discovered one of his two stars was missing about a month ago, counters, “We should have known a lot earlier than now that this was happening.”
There’s no way to salvage the dozens of stars destroyed. Alexander is now on a last-ditch effort to find property that could be the new, hopefully permanent, home for the new stars.
“If I can put them down somewhere, anywhere, and make sure this doesn’t happen again, we can make new ones and put them down,” Alexander says. “But we don’t have a place to do that.”
Clark County officials say such a condition is impossible. They can’t promise a future public projects wouldn’t overtake the stars’ new locations. And of course, private businesses do what they want with their spaces and can rip out any attraction.
The high cost of these new displays is also a concern.
Alexander, who is also investigating sites in downtown Las Vegas for the stars’ return, says he’ll offer recipients interested in that reclamation project a tax-deductible $5,000 donation to complete the task. But don’t count on an influx of recipients or their estates to take that offer; honorees have already paid between $2,000 and (in the early years) and $20,000 (most recently) to offset fees related to being honored.
As it stands, there are no plans for any entertainer to be honored on the Walk of Stars. The most recent — and maybe last — star dedicated was to Pete “Big Elvis” Vallee at The Piano Bar at Harrah’s in February 2017. That star remains intact at the entrance of the hotel facing the Strip.
That means, yes, on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars, Elvis Presley is gone. But “Big Elvis” lives.