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SHOW GOES FROM SIZZLE TO FIZZLE

New Year’s Eve revelers had varied opinions about the fireworks show on the Strip, and their vantage points tended to sway their viewpoints.

“If you were in the right spot on the Strip, you saw a great show,” said Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events. “If you weren’t, you saw a somewhat-obstructed show.”

Organizers of the $600,000 exhibit tried something new: shooting off fireworks from parking lots and garages instead of resort rooftops.

The decision was made after Clark County adopted new rules requiring a fire safety engineering inspection before pyrotechnics could be launched from a roof. Organizers decided the studies would be too time-consuming and costly.

Christenson said they will spend the next two months evaluating the show before determining whether to devote the time and money necessary to return the display to its old heights.

“We did our best to alert everyone about the show, and we’ll just have to see to what extent people did or didn’t enjoy it,” he said.

Christenson already has heard the complaints from Las Vegas area residents who had no view of the New Year’s Eve exhibit.

“Obviously, from the community they were disappointed in that there was no show for them,” he said.

Courtney Scherer, 25, falls into that category. She and her fiance recently moved into a new home in the Henderson community of Seven Hills.

“We stayed home purposely because our house has an amazing view of the Strip,” Scherer said Friday while standing outside the Fashion Show mall.

They invited another couple to fly out from Connecticut to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks with them.

“We could not see anything,” Scherer lamented.

Scherer, who grew up in New York, said “it’s always Times Square and Las Vegas” on New Year’s Eve, but this celebration did not live up to her expectations.

Friend Tanya Dighello, 25, likened it to “an empty present.”

Scherer said she hopes the next show will spring from the Strip resorts’ rooftops again.

“I just think when it’s this particular city, they should be spending the money on that,” she said.

A group of Canadians also expressed disappointment in the New Year’s Eve show as they stood outside a Strip gelato stand Friday.

Diane Schendel, 58, and her husband celebrated their sixth New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas. This time, they brought along another couple, who experienced the event for the first time.

As the four watched outside the Flamingo Las Vegas, they could see only portions of the fireworks.

“The experience of celebrating New Year’s in Las Vegas — it’s supposed to be the best place to go,” said friend Diane Cross, 57.

Her husband, Laurin, also 57, said the changes in the show wouldn’t stop the couple from returning. “It just diminishes the evening,” he said.

Another Canadian, Brenda Rowe, spent her first New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas and said it will be her last. But the decision had nothing to do with the fireworks.

Rowe, 47, and her live-in boyfriend, 44-year-old Andrew Hutchison, watched the display from their suite on the 21st floor of Bally’s.

“I don’t know if you could have gotten a better view than what we had,” Hutchison said Friday as he shopped for souvenirs outside the Fashion Show mall.

Rowe said she won’t come back because of all the smut that was flashed in front of her as she walked down the Strip.

“I was offended,” she said.

Kevin Sproston, 25, and girlfriend Sophie Slater, 28, traveled from England to spend their first New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas. They each paid $200 to celebrate at New York-New York’s Rok nightclub but exited before midnight to experience the event at street level.

Both said they had a good view of the fireworks, although Slater “thought they could have gone on longer,” and both thought higher would have been better.

Sproston said he enjoyed the fact that he witnessed the show for free.

“It’s not uncommon to pay for fireworks in England,” Slater explained.

Christenson, who watched the show from the Las Vegas Events command center atop the Rio, said the best vantage points were in front of the seven firing stations: Mandalay Bay, Luxor, MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Stratosphere.

“I think I saw a piece of every one of the displays,” he said.

Christenson said money for the show came from the hotel tax, and because of that, “The first priority is the experience on the Strip.”

He estimated that it would cost about $200,000 to complete the studies necessary to return the show to resort rooftops.

Christenson acknowledged that the lower display “wasn’t nearly as dramatic as we’ve had in the past” for television viewers — a fact that could hurt the “America’s Party” brand.

“On the other hand, I think people give the fireworks too much credit for that,” he added.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

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