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July 29, 2015

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Joe Downtown: Fenced in Fremont East won’t be part of First Friday in July

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Steve Marcus

There’ll be no fencing off of Fremont East for July’s First Friday, sources say

Police will be on horseback and will more strictly enforce open-container laws, but there will be no fence around Fremont East when the overflow crowds from First Friday descend upon the area July 5.

Some downtown business owners had been talking to Metro Police about fencing in a roughly two-block area of Fremont East on First Fridays, then checking the IDs of people at the entrance to be sure they were 21 or older. That won’t happen, sources said.

“Nobody really wanted to resort to that,” one business owner added. “We think this plan will work.”

The problem has been underage visitors drinking on the street, where open containers of alcohol are traditionally tolerated – on the Strip and under the Fremont Street Experience drinking from a can of beer or a fluorescent, yard-long container is practically a civil right.

But First Friday observers said underage drinkers had been setting up minibars outside businesses, taking cans from 12-packs and cases and getting drunk and brazen as the night passes. Several business operators have acknowledged they feel the underaged drinking, combined with large numbers of people, have made people feel less safe that night.

To help tone down the First Friday party-style atmosphere on Fremont East, businesses also are being asked not to pipe music into the street.

Mike Nolan, general manager and COO of Fremont Street’s El Cortez, said business operators “just want to try to make it safe for everybody.”

Nolan is also president of the Fremont East Entertainment District.

“This is a start,” he added. “Let’s try this, see if it works. It’s a work in progress.”

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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