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October 1, 2014

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Joe Downtown:

Bars to close early during downtown’s Life is Beautiful festival

Life Is Beautiful Festival Lineup

Imagine Dragons perform Live at The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Life Is Beautiful Marketing Team

Rehan Choudhry, Chief Executive Officer of Aurelian Marketing Group, talks to his team in the Launch slideshow »

Residents and business owners will get credentials and vehicle tags so they can get into and out of the perimeter of the Life is Beautiful festival this October.

That and other information, such as the fact that bars downtown within the outline of the music, food and art festival will close early so bomb sweeps can be conducted both nights, came out during a meeting Wednesday.

Co-founders Rehan Choudhry and Ashley Goodhue gave a quick presentation inside the Learning Village, between 7th and 8th streets on Fremont, to about 100 people. Two more informational meetings will be held before the festival on Oct. 26 and 27.

“The ultimate goal for all of this is an incredible relationship … between all of the people who live, work and play and call downtown their home,” Choudhry said. He later added that “at its core, the purpose of these festivals isn’t to just throw a party or just bring a lot of people and screw stuff up … The intention is to bring a lot of influential and high-spending people to our community with hopes that they continue to come back.”

He compared Life is Beautiful to what you’d get if Coachella, Lollapalooza and South By Southwest were combined.

He expects 25,000 to 30,000 people each day of the festival, adding that attendees range in age from the very young to those 65 years or older.

The festival and the dozens of bands playing on several stages will be open 12 hours a day. Choudhry said the bars and restaurants within the festival’s boundaries will experience a volume of business they have never had before. Festival organizers, he added, will have trucks of booze and other necessities on hand so those places don’t run out.

However, he added, “in a lot of ways, there isn’t a comparison because no one’s built a festival with this scope in a city footprint and used this many types of entertainment.”

Goodhue gave a general outline of road closures outside of the 15-block, fenced festival grounds: Bridger Avenue from Las Vegas Boulevard to 11th Street; Stewart Avenue from 7th to 9th streets; Ogden Avenue from 7th to 11th streets; and 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th streets from Bridger to Carson Avenue.

Vehicles in that area outside of the fence but on those streets will be required to have vehicle tags provided by organizers.

The general area inside the fence line goes like this: Las Vegas Boulevard to 11th and Carson to Ogden forms a large blocked area; then on its north border is an area carved out from Las Vegas Boulevard to 7th; and Ogden to Mesquite Avenue.

Those working within the fence line will be given cloth wristbands embedded with computer chips, and each one will be made for one specific person. Employees expecting to work within the area will all need the wristbands. Goodhue said they cannot be taken off during the two days of the festival.

Festival grounds will open at noon on Saturday, Oct. 26, and close at midnight; then open again noon Sunday and close at 11 p.m. Sunday.

Someone asked if midnight was “last call” for bars. The answer was no; they have to be closed at midnight.

That might seem unusual in a city where bars stay open 24 hours or until the wee hours of the morning, but Choudhry said they will likely do more business in the 12 hours of the festival than any 12-hour period they’ve ever been open.

The Nevada Day parade, which might have interfered with the festival, is also canceled this year.

One of the more interesting questions came from the operator of Bob’s Bail Bonds, which is at 812 E. Ogden — not inside the fence line but within the road closure area.

Frankly and rather humorously, the woman said her business would be affected because her clientele “are not going to want to stop at a road closure and tell (anyone) where they’re going. They’re all paranoid, they think everybody’s out to get them and if they roll down the window, the police officer … will smell the pot.

“All of them have glaucoma,” she said, to roars of laughter.

That one stumped the organizers, who promised to meet and talk with her to come up with a solution.

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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