Monday, Dec. 31, 2012 | 1:03 a.m.
Despite a nip in the air as temperatures drop into the 30s, Las Vegas is giving its traditional warm New Year's Eve welcome to hundreds of thousands of visitors tonight throughout the Strip and in the downtown's Fremont Street.
As the expected gathering of some 314,000 revelers celebrate the last hours of 2012 and welcome in the first hours of 2013, Las Vegas Sun reporters and photographers will be capturing the sights and sounds of a New Year’s Eve celebration, which will feature music, romance, champagne and fireworks as the clock hits midnight.
The Strip: 12:51 a.m.
Counting backwards from 10, the hundreds of thousands of revelers on the Las Vegas Strip said goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013.
The cheers of the crowd were punctuated with loud blasts from the overhead fireworks show while people shared hugs and kisses with loved ones.
The end of the fireworks sent people scrambling to escape the sub-freezing cold, causing severe bottlenecks, which clogged Las Vegas Boulevard as people hurried back to the casinos, anxious to start the new year.
The scattering of the crowd revealed the debris left behind from a night of hard partying. Piles of discarded cans, bottles, novelty cups and party hats littered the gutters, awaiting the street sweepers which will arrive in the early morning to wipe away the remnants of 2012.
Fremont Street: 12:15 a.m.
The music continues to blare at the Fremont Street Experience, but throngs of people make their way for the heated casinos. Other people stay outside snapping photos and dancing to the music.
Meanwhile, custodians can be seen sweeping the ground, now littered with remnants from the night's celebrations.
The Strip: 12:08 a.m.
Matthew Dalton may not have the sculpted body of a Chippendales dancer, but he's definitely got some guts.
He dressed like one of the famous dancers on New Year's Eve, going shirtless with just a collar, tie and cuffs.
Cold? Not for Dalton and his wife, Christine, who saw the Chippendales this year and got the idea for Matthew's costume.
"We're from Calgary, Canada," Matthew said. "It's minus-15 Celsius there. This is no big deal."
On the Strip, Dalton's costume drew plenty of notice. People stopped to get their picture taken with him throughout the evening. "I'll be the random Facebook guy," he said.Metro tweets: 12:01 a.m.
Here are a few selected tweets posted by Metro Police tonight @LVMP:
• Party Smart NYE Countdown #1: Have fun! Party Smart and get home safely!! Happy New Year!!!
• Party Smart NYE Countdown #2: Women 20-29 are in a higher risk group for sexual assaults and alcohol is usually a factor.
• Party Smart NYE Countdown #3: Younger women are at risk for sexual assaults. 90% of sexual assaults are done by a person known to the victim
• Party Smart NYE Countdown #4: Stranger-danger still holds true. The guy you just met, may not be who you think he is.
• Party Smart NYE Countdown #5: Think about your drink. Don’t leave it unattended. If you do, get a fresh one.
• Party Smart NYE Countdown #6: Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Your judgment is impaired b4 the legal limit of .08. Know your limit
• FIREWORKS and shooting guns into the air are both illegal and dangerous. It can cause injury and death.
• Just a reminder: Metal and glass containers are banned on the Strip and in downtown areas tonight. Plastic only! #LVMPD #NYE
• Party Smart NYE Countdown #7: Know your surroundings. Know the address of the party and let your emergency contact know.
• Party Smart NYE Countdown #8: Have travel arrangements planned. Arrange a cab ahead of time to pick you up and take you home.
• Party Smart NYE Countdown #9: Leave no man behind (or woman). Have a designated friend when going to party, but don’t leave without them.
• Party Smart NYE Countdown #10: Before leaving home, program your phone. Have the number of someone you trust ready in case you need help.
• Get ready for the pedestrians on the Strip! All vehicular traffic on Las Vegas Blvd from Sahara Ave to Russell Rd is about to stop. #LVMPD
Fremont Street: Midnight
Fireworks — both real and virtual — erupt at the Fremont Street Experience as couples kiss, cameras snap, glasses toast and bells rings.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her husband Oscar, the former mayor, hug onstage.
Fremont Street Experience officials estimate the crowd swelled to 25,000 before midnight. They continued selling tickets throughout the night.
Fremont Street: 11:54 p.m.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her husband, Oscar, greet the elbow-to-elbow crowd assembled near the 3rd Street stage at the Fremont Street Experience. They're flanked, of course, by two showgirls.
Oscar Goodman, the former mayor, energizes the crowd with a quip about how he gets to sleep with the mayor. The crowd laughs and cheers.
"You know, every year, when I come down here for New Year's Eve, I am amazed how Las Vegas is really the greatest city in the history of the world," Oscar Goodman said. "Is there any place better than Las Vegas? Is there any place better than Fremont?"
The crowd screams. The final countdown to midnight begins.
The Strip: 11:50 p.m.
Metro Police sent out a statement that, as of 11:30 p.m., the 2012-2013 Las Vegas New Year's Eve celebration "remains orderly."
"So far we have had approximately three arrests from within the Strip corridor; two of which were for domestic violence," Metro said. "There has been one report of an incident involving a weapon near the area of Las Vegas Boulevard and Circus Circus Drive. No one was injured in this event and the firearm and suspect are in custody. No further details are available at this time concerning that event."
The Downtown Area Command, which covers the Fremont Street Experience, has had about 10 misdemeanor arrests. There have been five DUI arrests, and one misdemeanor traffic citation associated with the N.Y.E. celebration, police said.
The Strip: 11:31 p.m.
Mixed in among the thousands of revelers, dozens of evangelists took to the Strip waving signs and proselytzing to the masses.
"This is Sin City. I want to be out telling people about Jesus on the front lines," said Richie Moreno, who drove up from Tucson, Ariz., to spend his first New Year's Eve in Las Vegas. Although a large gathering of the demonstrators spent much of the evening by Caesars Palace, where they exchanged words through a megaphone with a large crowd gathered around them.
Down by the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Moreno said he had seen a mix of reactions to his large sign that reads "Jesus saves."
"We have had some hecklers and some really drunk people, but we've also had some good conversations with people who have approached us with good questions," Moreno said. "The hope is even if we don't change people's minds right now, (the idea) will be there when they need it."
Fremont Street: 11:19 p.m.
A neon arrow with the word "liquor" on it points into a souvenir shop across from the D. That's where a small line is forming, as partygoers buy drinks, T-shirts and other memorabilia while enjoying a few moments of heat.
A sign next to the register advertises the New Year's Eve special: two 16-ounce plastic bottles of Miller Lite for $5.
The Strip: 11:15 p.m.
As the clock ticks closer to midnight, the Strip is becoming congested with shivering people clad in neon light-up hats and flashing 2013 glasses.
Many have begun camping out on the sidewalk waiting for the fireworks. Meanwhile, pop music blaring from casino loud speakers are being drowned out by ear splitting air horns, buzzing vuvuzelas, whistles and enthusiastic yells celebrating the waning minutes of 2012.
The Strip: 11:02 p.m.
Panhandlers on Las Vegas Boulevard take a lot of different approaches.
A guy who set up in front of Planet Hollywood claimed to need medical assistance -- sort of.
"Need money for penis enlargement," his sign said.
The Strip: 10:07 p.m.
With $240 in supplies in his car, Mike Woods set out from Los Angeles Monday morning to try and make a quick buck selling New Year's themed accessories to revelers on the Strip.
Woods was one of many vendors who set up tables or carts along Las Vegas Boulevard, selling everything from light-up 2013 glasses to party hats to noisemakers.
Selling items from his table, two for $5, Woods hadn't made back the money he invested in the venture as of 10 p.m.
"I'm hopeful," he said.
The Strip: 10 p.m.
Doug Huyge and his friend Brent Brown have lost their voices while offering free hugs to people along the Strip. The friends from Kalamazoo, Mich., were among hundreds who bought and waved a Free Hugs sign for $5, and have begun hugging everyone in sight.
"I think I've had more hugs in the last hour than I've had my entire life," Huyge said with a raspy voice.
Sign vendors Bill Benjauthrit and Chris Gray said they've sold about 300 of the free hug signs — each transaction completed with a hug. Benjauthrit said the goal was to spread hope along the Strip for the New Year and help people forget about the troubles of 2012. Already they've seen a difference with each customer.
"People are joyful, they're happy and more helpful," Benjauthrit said. "You can just see the gleam in their eyes."
CVS pharmacy: 9:25 p.m.
Las Vegas partiers are flocking to the CVS pharmacy on the Strip and waiting in long lines to stock up on liquor, snacks and last-minute cosmetics.
The one thing unavailable to the public are restrooms, prompting one frustrated person to comment to a friend: "They have no public bathrooms in there. They're about to make the whole street a bathroom."
Fremont Street: 9:15 p.m.
For one newlywed couple, the Fremont Street Experience served as a reception of sorts.
Trista and Rick Fox, both 28, boarded a Las Vegas-bound plane in Milwaukee, Wisc., on Sunday with a wedding dress and tuxedo in tow. They tied the knot at 2:45 p.m. Monday in front of the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign.
"We wanted it to be about us, and this is the best place to do that," said Trista Fox, who wore a long, white wedding dress with ruffles and sequins.
They hatched the plan in October, despite the fact that neither had ever been to Las Vegas. Their families know; their friends don't.
"We love it here," Trista Fox said. "We absolutely love it here. It's the best place to get married."
New York-New York: 9:14 p.m.
Carrie Bogdanovic always wanted to get married before she turned 40. And Monday night she accomplished that goal with just a few hours to spare.
With her New Year's Day birthday only hours away, Carrie wed Radi Bogdanovic at the New York-New York.
The Canadian couple got engaged in October and decided to add a wedding to the Vegas trip they had already booked.
"We decided to get hitched and just get it done with," Carrie Bogdanovic said as she stood wearing a white wedding dress in the middle of the casino floor. "We're going out to walk the Strip and celebrate with everyone. That's why we came — it's the biggest party in the world."
Paris Las Vegas: 9:09 p.m.
It's becoming a Vegas holiday tradition: the area in front of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino sidewalk bar gets sticky.
It happens as revelers accidentally spill "Paris Punch," a red alcoholic beverage served in a container that looks like the Eiffel Tower. Cost: $24.
Fremont Street: 8:52 p.m.
Scantily-clad female dancers shake and shimmy atop a bar outside Golden Gate. Men line up to watch. Some even snap photos.
Meanwhile, three bundled-up Metro Police officers standing nearby survey the crowd, which is swaying to the tunes of Yellow Brick Road.
Near the Monte Carlo: 8:35 p.m.
You just can't keep him from a good party — the King is out on the Strip.
Brett Essenmacher, as Elvis, was on Las Vegas Boulevard outside the El Diablo bar and grill near the Monte Carlo. Joining him for a cigarette and a beer, Ephriam Gonzalez was decked out as a Star Wars storm trooper to take photos with tourists for tips.
"I heard you can make a lot of money out here on New Year's Eve, so I thought I'd give it a try," Gonzalez said.
New York-New York: 8:27 p.m.
On a night geared toward adult entertainment, Jason Cunningham and his family found some fun for all ages at the roller coaster at New York-New York. Other families have had the same idea as the arcade and roller coaster has been swarming with children and parents.
The Cunninghams, who are from Eugene, Ore., hadn't planned on spending New Year's Eve in Las Vegas. But with Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, they decided to make a pit stop here before going on to the game in Phoenix. Wearing an Oregon Ducks shirt, Jason Cunningham predicted his New Year would start off with a 42-23 Ducks win. Still, even in Vegas, he has no plans to bet on it.
He's just here to enjoy some family fun.
Fremont Street: 8:20 p.m.
As Don McLean's "American Pie" blares over the speakers on Fremont Street, another Don makes it his mission to get the party started. Meet Don Markley.
Wearing an Ohio State jersey and a sparkling, red top hat, he clutches a camera and shouts "Get in there! Get in there!" to anyone passing. "There" refers to a singing and dancing group of friends clustered outside The D.
Some clutch Coors Light. Others carry mixed-drink concoctions, trying not to spill as they stand singing, "This will be the day that I die/This will be the day that I die."
Markley, a Las Vegas resident, stops long enough to give his name and say he was there for "friendship, love and entertainment."
Then the chorus starts again: "We were singing bye-bye, Miss American Pie..."
"There we go," Markley says, turning back to the group, camera in hand. "I'm not done! I'm not done!"
Riding to the Strip: 8:11 p.m.
A party bus? Nope, but a safe and warm ride to the Strip — and a free one, too.
Aboard the RTC's SDX route from the South Strip Terminal, it's a laid-back atmosphere. There are maybe 30 people on the bus, and everyone's relaxed.
The RTC's park-and-ride service is an alternative to jammed parking garages and bumper to bumper traffic along the Strip.
Miracle Mile: 7:47 p.m
It's last call for last-minute shoppers.
Most stores in the Miracle Mile mall at Planet Hollywood began closing, around 6 p.m., but a few shops are staying open late to capitalize on procrastinating partiers.
S.Y.L.K. clothing boutique proudly proclaimed its extended hours with a sign on the door announcing it is staying open until 10 p.m.
"Dresses are most of our stock, so that's another reason for us to stay open. We have flashy dresses and that's what women want for New Year's Eve. We've got that pizzazz," said store manager Gab Stuart. "A lot of people are just catching a flight in or just got off work."
At Dollheads beauty salon at Miracle Mile, stylists saw a busy day, with several dozen clients coming in to get their hair done. The salon has appointments booked until 10 p.m., a manager said.
Fremont Street: 6:57 p.m.
Don't be fooled by the oversized bottle Tank Campbell clutches outside Binion's in downtown Las Vegas. It's filled with a pina colada — not milk.
Consider it a way to stay warm. After all, the North Carolina resident is clad only in a cloth diaper, lace socks, high-top white sneakers, a black top hat and, of course, a 2013 sash.
He's the proverbial New Year's baby, hoping to make a buck or two at the Fremont Street Experience. Current Las Vegas weather: 41 degrees.
Between posing with tourists and smiling for the camera, Campbell said he and his wife got married in Las Vegas, and he has always wanted to try a night as a street performer. A few dollar bills sat in a gold tin beneath his feet. His wife had the rest of the loot, he said.
This isn't his first time donning a baby costume, though. Campbell said he has entered several contests dressed as a baby.
"I've won first place every time," he said.
Fremont Street: 6:30 p.m.
They need to head for the airport by 4:30 a.m., but that isn't putting a damper on one family's celebrations tonight.
Holly Winter, 22, sipped a "sex on the beach" mixed drink, while her mother drank Bacardi. The pair, here with two other family members from St. Cloud, Minn., started planning their trip a year ago.
They arrived Friday, just enough time to assemble their New Year's Eve bling: glitter pumps and a purple, sparkling hat for the daughter and a "Happy New Year" tiara for her mother.
Their first impression of the downtown Las Vegas celebration?
"Interesting," Holly Winter said. "It should be a blast."
Fremont Street: 6 p.m.
6 p.m. The Fremont Street Experience opens to partygoers. It was closed for one hour while Metro Police conducted a pre-party security sweep.
Bands will perform at three stages — located at Main Street, 1st Street and 3rd Street — throughout the night. Buckcherry performs at 10:15 p.m. at the 3rd Street stage.
One change this year: Fremont Street Experience officials said no one wearing face paint or masks will be allowed in the party. A group of street performers dressed as KISS members was kicked out.