The Kats! Bureau at this writing is on a perch 30 feet above NV Energy’s headquarters on West Sahara Avenue. As I say, I have not been sent here because I am late on my bill.
This happens to be our favorite Vegas holiday-season residency, as KLUC 98.5-FM personality Chet Buchanan is leading the 20th annual KLUC Toy Drive. The scaffold is home to some radio equipment, including a portable unit that looks like a boom box from 1986; a silver, reinforced ShiftPod2 tent (which retails for $1,500) that can withstand 110-mph winds; and a state-of-the-art, octagonal port-a-potty.
This is a more refined living space than my first apartment. All we need are some inflatable Bud Light chairs up here.
As always, Buchanan is staying on this platform until the campaign ends at 10 a.m. Dec. 10. Buchanan and his spirited crew of volunteers are collecting unwrapped toys, bicycles, and donations. Already, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has stopped by. Also, the guys from Human Nature — Andrew and Mike Tierney, Toby Allen and Phil Burton — arrived early to sing “White Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” while dropping off a quartet of 50-inch-tall teddy bears.
Buchanan is brazenly shooting to raise “one more dollar,” from its record-setting take a year ago. Thus, the monetary goal is $455,551. The bicycle goal this year is 8,110, or enough to fill 32 Coca-Cola semi-trailers. The Vegas radio star and host of KLUC’s “The Chet Buchanan Show” says his inspiration for setting those marks has been none other than the world champion of philanthropy, Jerry Lewis. The entertainment legend always sought to raise one more dollar more than the previous year in his MDA Labor Day Telethon.
Buchanan met Lewis in September 2016 when Buchanan hosted Criss Angel’s H.E.L.P. charity event at Luxor. “I watched the telethon as a kid, and when I finally met Jerry Lewis he gave me his blessing to go for one more dollar. He said, ‘That’s the way to do it.’”
In its inception, the annual toy drive was held at Boulevard Mall in 1999 and 2000. It moved to the since-closed CompUSA computer store on West Sahara, and in 2008 was relocated further west at its current NV Energy outpost.
By the end of this year’s campaign, Buchanan will have spent 212 days, or seven full months, in various tented enclaves. He missed two years, 2002-2003, when he took a job in Portland, Ore.
Buchanan, a popular charity emcee and auctioneer at major events in VegasVille, said the toy-drive has become a cathartic way to celebrate the holiday season.
“When I am up here, for the next 12 days, this is my entire focus — making sure we deliver on the promise to help those in need,” he says. “It’s busy. It’s active. But you know, my real job is to make sure everyone gets a thank-you, because there are so many people we need to thank.”
For sure, starting with the man on the perch.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast is posted on the R-J website. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.