National Finals Rodeo to honor victims of Las Vegas shooting

Updated December 3, 2017 - 2:54 pm

No. 58 is to stay in the stables at this year’s National Finals Rodeo.

Not the contestant but the number assigned to any competitor in the annual rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center. Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Commissioner Karl Stressman said No. 58 is not being issued this year to honor those who died in the Oct. 1 mass shooting.

“We certainly felt for you in Las Vegas a few weeks ago when this happened,” Stressman said. “We were there two weeks after the tragedy, and it was so strange and powerful to be near that. So we decided we’re not giving away the 58 back number to show our respect for city we really do love.”

The No. 58 is to return to the NFR next year. Stressman, however, will not, at least not as commissioner. He is set to retire at the end of this year’s event, which runs Thursday through Dec. 16.

It’s been an eventful, 10-year ride. Stressman was in the saddle, metaphorically, in late-2013 when the PRCA nearly negotiated a deal to move the NFR to Osceola County, Florida, just outside Orlando.

South Point owner and rodeo devotee Michael Gaughan, who is being honored as this year’s Pro Legend at the 10th annual Wrangler Gold Buckle Gala at his hotel Monday night, was among the Las Vegas officials who sat across from Stressman during those often chippy talks.

“These guys are freakin’ great negotiators, and Michael made a comment the other day that at the end of the day, everyone pretty much got what they wanted in terms of numbers and dollars and years,” says Stressman, referring to the deal that keeps the NFR at Thomas & Mack Center through 2024. “Frankly, it was tough and there were times when it was not pleasant, but I don’t think anyone ever took anything personally. When it was over, it was over.”

Run, Santa, run

With Wayne Newton as honorary chairman and Holly Madison as grand marshal, the 13th annual Great Santa Run flooded Fremont Street on Saturday morning. A little more than 8,000 participants, all in Santa costumes, participated in this year’s event, which again benefited Opportunity Village.

The participant count was a bit lower than last year’s 8,803 mark but about on par with 2015’s turnout. Several groups that had planned to join in dropped out after Oct. 1.

“We are only 61 days out from Oct. 1, so we are calling it a huge success,” Opportunity Village President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Brown said.

Joining the morning holiday frivolity were Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her hubby, ex-Mayor Oscar Goodman; members of the Chippendales at the Rio; “Fantasy” vocalist Lorena Peril; “Sexxy” vocalist Gabriella Versace; downtown Las Vegas Elvis tribute artist; and the OV Elvi dance troupe under the direction of Las Vegas musician and singer Daryll Borges of Bee Gees Gold.

The next tome

During the event, Madison (who never seems to take a bad photo) teased to her plans for 2018: A fourth book, following her 2011 effort, “The Showgirl Next Door: Holly Madison’s Las Vegas”; her 2014 release, “Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny”; and last year’s “The Vegas Diaries: Romance, Rolling the Dice, and the Road to Reinvention.”As she said, “I’m busy writing.” Usually, best-seller-chart spot follows.

Piff on this

Piff the Magic Dragon’s “Piffmas at Piffany’s” holiday spectacular and quasi-game show is back! Exclamation mark!

The third annual rite of winter runs Monday through Dec. 30 at Bugsy’s Cabaret at Flamingo.

As Piff, comic magician Jon van der Put in disguise, says, “‘Piffmas at Piffany’s’ is about three things and three things only: Points, prizes and pummeling the opposition into submission. There can only be one winner, and second place is just first loser.”

How it works: Audience members are split into four teams, which compete for Piff’s Prize Potluck. The night’s climax is the Sale of Sandwich, which has Piff sell a danish or like snack to a visiting Vegas celebrity, with money going to the entertainer’s chosen charity.

When he debuted the show at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in 2014, Piff sold Brad Garrett a croissant for $1,000 and also entertained Shania Twain and David Copperfield (in separate shows) for worthy causes.

The satin-costumed dragon raised more than $15,000 in his initial run. We understand at least one famous entertainer, who is at once tall and well-read, plans to participate this year. Watch here for details.

Leach update

Robin Leach continues slow but steady progress after suffering a mild stroke Nov. 21 in Cabo San Lucas. His son, Steve Leach, says he hopes his father can begin rehabilitation by midweek to strengthen his weakened right side.

Saturday, Leach was moved to the intensive care unit at St. Rose Dominican Hospital’s San Martín Campus on West Warm Springs Road, closer to his Las Vegas home. Leach had spent the week at St. Rose’s Rose de Lima rehabilitation center in Henderson.

He has been unable to speak because of a ventilator tube, which is likely to be removed in the next couple of days.

No visitors for Leach are allowed, and no gifts or cards being accepted. Steve Leach’s mobile phone has been bombarded with messages from well-wishers. Leach said his father has received nearly 4,000 e-mail incoming messages since the incident.

Leach faces a stringent rehabilitation schedule. The most optimistic timeline for him to return to duty is a month after he begins rehab, or five weeks from now.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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