Friday, March 19, 2004 | 9:33 a.m.
Las Vegas Centennial Celebration organizers are building toward what boosters hope will be an international party that lights up the world in 2005.
New Year's fireworks that dwarf New York's? Check.
International exposure? Check.
With media giant Clear Channel on board lining up corporate sponsorships, with prestigious documentary-maker Insignia Films producing a piece on the history and future of Las Vegas, and with numerous local events meant to sum the components of community in the Las Vegas Valley into a whole, the yearlong event took another step forward Thursday with the unveiling of the official website, lasvegas2005.org.
During the celebrations, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said, "The whole world will know Las Vegas is there."
He repeated an often-used line, saying that when he asks Las Vegas residents where they're from, they name their place of birth or last state of residence.
"After the centennial is over and they understand the richness of our community, they'll say Las Vegas," Goodman said.
The celebration is being paid for by money generated from sponsorships lined up by Clear Channel. Goodman, speaking earlier in the morning at a business conference, said that of every $1,000, Clear Channel gets $200, the city gets $200, and the rest goes to pay for centennial events.
Goodman said he recently met with Clear Channel and representatives of Budweiser, Polaroid and Chevrolet for sponsorships.
"They are all very interested in sponsorships and in putting banners throughout the community," Goodman said.
One of the places mentioned for banners is McCarran International Airport. Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury said airport officials are "considering what needs to be done. They haven't reached a determination yet on how to approach it."
Another development is the recent vote by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to put $700,000 toward Insignia Films' planned three-hour documentary on Las Vegas. In exchange, Las Vegas will get several spots during the broadcast, which officials estimate will reach 6 million people during the first run and many times that through rebroadcasts.
The film also will be sold as videotapes and adapted into a book. Las Vegas will get 10 percent of the proceeds, which could bring in about $100,000, convention and visitors authority spokesman Rob Powers said.
Partners in the centennial celebration include Las Vegas, Clark County, R&R Partners, Clear Channel, Insignia Films, the convention and visitors authority and Stephens Media Interactive, which is handling the website, where people can find out about grants, events and volunteer opportunities.
The announcement came at a perfect time for Melody Wills, 42, a cocktail waitress at Mandalay Bay, who happened to be passing by while shopping at Fashion Show mall, site of the news conference.
"I think it's awesome," she said. The news conference answered one of her questions: "I wanted to get involved, and with the website being up now, I can."
Wills moved to Las Vegas from Georgia, and she may as well have been planted in the crowd by Goodman.
"I've been here three years, and I'm starting to feel like a native," Wills said.
That's part of the idea.
Patricia Marchese, Clark County parks director, is coordinating the grant program. She said the event will create, as well as commemorate, Las Vegas history.
Quoting from a proverb, she said, "The next time you eat an apple, think of the person who planted the seed."
Woodbury, who was at the news conference Thursday, said he was born and raised in the Las Vegas Valley, and he was "very, very proud of what the community has become."
After Woodbury's remarks, Goodman said everyone in the valley has a shared interest in the celebration, and cracked, "When Bruce was growing up here, I was representing mobsters."
The centennial is being pitched as two parallel events, one for locals and one for tourists.
Alan Feldman, MGM MIRAGE spokesman, said his industry has not yet revved up "full force."
He said it was a valuable marketing tool for resorts heading into 2005, but focused on the impact on the community.
"These moments in history are very important ... They allow you as a group of citizens to take stock," Feldman said.
He recalled helping organize events at the Los Angeles bicentennial 20 years ago. Feldman said he started out cynical, but "by the time it was over I really got it. People contemplated what it meant to be 200 years old."
He said Los Angeles, like Las Vegas today, "had such a sense of newness that people didn't think of what it meant to be 200 years old."