For two consecutive years, Greg Zanis has arrived from Illinois and planted 58 handmade white crosses at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign to memorialize the victims of the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting.
This year, the venue for “Crosses For Losses” will change, with Clark County citing a long-standing rule against leaving items at the sign as well as pedestrian safety concerns.
Instead the wooden crosses — remade this year and again personalized by Zanis — will be hosted from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday outside the county government center downtown. It will coincide with the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center’s wellness event for survivors and community members, according to the county and “Crosses For Losses” publicist, Pat Lamparelli.
But the pushback to holding the memorial at the welcome sign perplexed Zanis, who was awarded a “Key to the Las Vegas Strip” by county officials only two years ago, Lamparelli said.
Both men were “kind of like in shock” over no longer being welcome at the popular landmark, he added, where Zanis’ display had previously drawn notes, candles and stuffed animals.
By Wednesday, the issue appeared resolved.
“Of course we wanted the Welcome to Las Vegas sign,” Lamparelli said, “but I can understand the (county’s) point of view.”
County spokesman Erik Pappa said the county appreciated all Zanis has done for Las Vegas but it has never allowed items to be left at the sign. In the aftermath of 1 October, however, officials chose to not interfere out of sensitivity and because it was the “appropriate thing to do.”
“The placement of the crosses at the welcome sign was a natural fit, proving a poignant and well-received memorial around which the community came together as one,” Pappa said in an email, describing the period immediately after the mass shooting.
But high traffic volume and limited parking presents safety issues for pedestrians, he said.
Even last year, the Review-Journal reported that Zanis was told the location was unsafe. A nearby barrier wall that partially surrounds the sign does not extend to where the crosses were set up and jaywalkers jogged across Las Vegas Boulevard to visit the shrine.
Despite the minor dust-up, Zanis planned to host his event as normal at its new location and continue the tradition of gifting crosses to family members who may collect them on site, Lamparelli said.
The Clark County Museum has preserved 51 of the original crosses and several artifacts left at the sign, according to Pappa.
Lamparelli said that Zanis is hopeful that local officials in attendance for the wellness event will stop by for his memorial, which is performed “for healing, and it’s a great thing for the city.”
Zanis was in Washington D.C. on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment this week.
The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center’s wellness event is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday at the county government center, located at 500 S. Grand Central Parkway.