Las Vegas Sun

November 17, 2017

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Roy to have special place with Old Timers

The sharing of precious memories and an homage to critically injured illusionist Roy Horn will highlight Sunday's eighth annual Las Vegas Old Timers Reunion at the Stardust.

"For $35 you get a great meal, two drinks, entertainment and a chance to see some people you haven't seen in many years," said longtime local businessman Herb Kaufman, organizer of the event that is expected to draw about 1,000 people who have lived in Southern Nevada at least 30 years.

"For those who like history, we'll have two projectors showing scenes and events from the old days of Las Vegas on the walls of the convention center."

But questions about the historical relevance many of the old timers are best left to the historians, said Kaufman, who long operated the Wonder World store and was a partner in the ownership of KVVU Channel 5 with entertainer Johnny Carson.

"So many of us have done things that it is not a big deal for us," he said. "We're just old friends seeing other old friends. For many of us, this is the one day of the year we get a chance to do that."

Memories shared by past attendees have ranged from the days when seemingly the entire town packed Butcher Field on autumn Friday nights to cheer on the Las Vegas High football team to the elaborate social soirees of Wilbur and Toni Clark at their opulent home on the old Desert Inn golf course.

"While most everybody is somebody at this event, everybody is just everybody -- we are all equal," said event board member Kenneth Johann, a real estate agent in Las Vegas for more than 50 years. "You see the faces and hear the names of the people who built this town."

Among the 800 people who have confirmed their reservations or have purchased a table are gaming figures Claudine Williams, Jackie Gaughan and Kirk Kerkorian; political figures Bill Briare, James Bilbray, Myron Leavitt, Chic Hecht and Ralph Lamb; and business leaders Art Lurie, Herb Tobman and Jim Marsh.

"Because table-hopping is so popular, each guest is given a sheet (of paper) with the table and seat numbers of every guest so they can more easily make their way around the room and find old friends," Kaufman said.

"Every year at this party I run into people who I thought had passed away years ago."

Kaufman said a moment of silence will be observed as a tribute to longtime Las Vegan Roy Horn, was bitten in the neck on Oct. 3 by one of his tigers during a performance of the Siegfried & Roy show at The Mirage. He remains in critical condition at the University Medical Center.

Jim Seagrave, vice president of marketing and advertising for the Stardust and a Las Vegas resident of 42 years, said this annual gathering holds a special place in the heart of the hotel and its personnel.

"We have hosted this event seven of its eight years, and our company really enjoys it," Seagrave said calling it a "break-even" venture for both the hotel and the group. "Longtime residents feel comfortable here because Las Vegas grew up with the Stardust.

"You'll have everyone here from hotel owners to the people who parked cars at their resorts. In their own way each of them played a part in making Las Vegas the great city it is today. They all played some role in our history."

While the old timers' gathering is marketed toward those who have lived here since at least 1973, anyone can purchase a ticket to attend. Dress is casual.

The festivities begin at 6 p.m. in the lounge of the Stardust Convention Center with an hourlong schmooze session. The dinner begins at 7 p.m. in the center, followed by a show featuring, among others, entertainer Peter Anthony and Steve Gordon's Orchestra.

The committee for the event includes Kaufman, Johann, Ruthe Deskin, Thalia Dondero, Carolyn Whelan, Lou Pearl, Dave Pearl, Art Lurie, Abe Fox and Geno Munari.

Sponsors of the event include the Stardust, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, Fisher Space Pen, Built on Integrity, Bagelmania and Houdini's Magic.

For reservations, call (702) 798-4789, ext. 103.