Remembering Boom Boom, Clifton and Vegas’s minor-league past

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is high atop T-Mobile Arena, where the Vegas Golden Knights will soon host the Arizona Coyotes — rather, the hated Arizona Coyotes — in our city’s first NHL game.

One early suggestion: Distribute commemorative pucks that double as hand-warmers.

I’ve never seen an NHL game in person, but I have been informed they are uniquely thrilling. However, I can sum up the history of pro hockey in Las Vegas in two mythic figures: Boom Boom and Tony Clifton.

Boom Boom is the polar bear mascot that represented the Las Vegas Thunder, the International Hockey League team that played at the Thomas & Mack Center from 1993-1999. One of the first people I met in Las Vegas wasn’t quite a person. It was polar-bear mascot Boom Boom, brought to life by John Saccenti.

I covered a Thunder game the first night I moved to town, in April 1996, and I encountered a costumed Saccenti on the service elevator. He pulled off the furry head, showing his own sweat-matted hair, and offered his right hand. Or, in this case, paw. I’ve since become friends with Saccenti, who once told me that women really, really liked the Boom Boom character.

Today, Saccenti is an executive with ESPN Events and the Las Vegas Bowl. He still keeps the head of Boom Boom on his desk, a lingering reminder of a misspent youth.

Clifton arrived in our lives for one night only, in December 2012, as the on-ice entertainment at one of the beloved midnight games of the Las Vegas Wranglers, the team that played in the Western Conference of the EHCL, formerly the East Coast Hockey League, between 2003 and 2014. Clifton was a lounge lizard of the highest order, created by the late Andy Kaufman and perpetrated by Kaufman’s friend and comedy writer Bob Zmuda.

The Clifton appearance at the Orleans Arena was one of the inspired marketing stunts by Wranglers President Billy Johnson, who hired the pugnacious crooner to sing between periods. The night was minor-league shtick at its finest. Zmuda-as-Clifton was nearly booed off the ice while atrociously lip-syncing “Rhinestone Cowboy,” as his flexible dance partner slithered around the velvet-cloaked stage.

“I want a big show in Vegas, with a band, a real production,” Zmuda-as-Clifton said that night. “To make it in Vegas, making the big time!”

But Clifton never returned. The Wranglers are long gone, failing to find a home after being jettisoned from their home ice in December 2013.

The Thunder is long defunct as well, but Boom Boom survives in Mr. Saccenti’s office, a Vegas mascot for all time.

T-Mobile signage

The Vegas Golden Knights marketing crew keeps the crowd entertained with trivia questions on giant LED screens at center ice. Fans learn that Las Vegas’ first mayor was Peter Buol, who served from 1911-1913. A goalie has a 5.3 percent chance of achieving a shutout. And former UFC star Frank Mir attended Bonanza High. Not noted about Mir (but equally interesting): He’s a major supporter of Nevada Ballet Theatre. I met him a few years ago at the Black & White Gala’s VIP party at Aria.

Good works from Dierks

Country music star Dierks Bentley visited University Medical Center on Monday, where he played an acoustic set and said he’s “at a total loss for words” over the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting.

“Those fans are all family to us. It’s a community like no other, and I’m sure I know some people that were killed or wounded,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “We see a lot of the same faces on the road. It’s a really tight group. The boundaries between the audience and the stage are thin, metaphorically, in country music,”

Celine’s contribution

The final tally is still being … well, tallied … but according to an AEG Live spokeswoman, Celine Dion’s donation from her show at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Oct. 3 has surpassed $500,000.

No new name

The long-anticipated arrival of “Masters of Illusion” at Bally’s in December won’t prompt a change in name for that legendary venue. It will still be Jubilee Theater, named for the long-running showgirls show that closed in February 2016.

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

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Get a sneak peek at Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like