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Bellagio’s fountains still dancing strong

The debut of Bellagio’s Dancing Fountains turned into an opening night perfect storm.

Windy conditions didn’t deter Bellagio creator Steve Wynn from pressing ahead with the spectacular water show for an opening night crowd of VIPs.

“He said, ‘I want to run the show at 100 percent,’ ” recalled Thomas Pinney, front feature manager. “We tried to tell him. He was adamant.”

Wave after wave of drenching mist soaked the invited guests, who watched from the sidewalk on the Strip.

Bellagio marks its 15th anniversary Tuesday, with ice cream and cake for the hotel’s 8,200 employees.

The high-water mark for the lake attraction came in June.

TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, announced in June that the fountains won the inaugural Travelers’ Choice award for top landmark in the United States.

The fountains bested a field of 1,263 of the top landmarks, parks, museums and amusement and water parks.

Bellagio President Randy Morton credits the box office success of the “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise for the fountains’ global popularity.

“When they peel away from the fountain at the end, it’s one of the best movie scenes of all time,” Morton told me in June.

“The fountains bring out all kinds of emotions,” Pinney said. “People start crying when they hear ‘Con te Partiro.’ ”

Objects retrieved from the lake via a Zamboni-like vacuum cleaner include lingerie, wedding and engagement rings and “funerary stuff like small urns with crematorial tags.”

For some, the fountains represent a serene refuge for reflection. For others, a place to turn the page on tougher times.

The most curious find? A toe tag, said Pinney.

For the complete interview, click on www.NormClarke.com.

HOLMES A HIT IN NYC

This wasn’t a good week for Clint Holmes. It was a great week.

He debuted his new cabaret show, “Stop This Train,” at New York City’s legendary Carlyle Café. The critics are on board.

Rex Reed, the notoriously tough reviewer, wrote in the New York Observer, “He has been around for four decades, but he’s just now hitting his stride, winning new fans and sailing into well-earned stardom.”

Reed added, “Holmes is one of the best musical additions to the waning scene of New York nightlife since, well, Bobby Short left the building.”

Holmes’ previous engagements at the Café Caryle were tributes to Short in 2011 and Paul Simon and Cole Porter last year.

Stephen Holden of the New York Times, in his second positive review of Holmes this year, referred to him as “the thinking man’s lounge singer.”

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Buddy Valastro, better known as “The Cake Boss,” will be honored by Southern Nevada’s Make-A-Wish branch at their annual Wish Ball March 29 at The Venetian. A frequent wish granter, Valastro spent a day at his bakery with a 13-year-old Southern Nevadan named Aldo, who died from cancer a few months later.

SIGHTINGS

Kobe Bryant, among a party of 15 Los Angeles Lakers at STK restaurant (Cosmopolitan) on Thursday. Bryant ordered a 25-year-old McCallan scotch. … New York City artist Domingo Zapata, checking out of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada sign on Wednesday. He had a workshop for about 40 art students at the Las Vegas Academy on Thursday and plans to spend eight hours sketching the sign today before attending the Timothy Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez weigh-in at the Thomas &Mack Center.

THE PUNCH LINE

“As if we didn’t have enough to worry about here in Los Angeles, something happened today that put us all on high alert. It rained. In fact, it was so wet that Kris and Bruce Jenner are battling for custody of their umbrella.” — Craig Ferguson

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas,” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.

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