Saturday, March 27, 2010 | 10:15 p.m.
The strip of highway known for its iconic neon went dark for a global cause Saturday night.
From the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign to the sky-high beam of the Luxor, Las Vegas dimmed its lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday for the third annual Earth Hour.
Las Vegas shut off its lights in solidarity with more than 4,000 cities in 120 countries to send a message about climate change and the importance of energy conservation. The city was named a showcase city for the World Wildlife Fund’s annual event.
The blackout began at the south end of the Strip and made its way north. One by one, the MGM Grand’s bright gold letters when dark, the Paris Las Vegas’ balloon and Eiffel Tower soon followed and the Flamingo turned off its pink and gold neon.
CityCenter’s LEED certified buildings — including the Mandarin Oriental, Aria and Vdara — all shut off their lights to show their continued commitment to sustainability.
While a handful of tourists snapped photos of the rare occurrence, most were unfazed by the darkness.
“What’s Earth Hour?” one tourist asked.
“It’s great for Mother Earth, but it’s bad for me when I’m trying to take photos,” another remarked.
This year, more than 30 Strip resorts and malls participated. Boyd Gaming properties off the Strip and other local landmarks and government buildings throughout the valley also went dark.
But streetlights, car headlights and lights from hotel rooms kept the Strip brightly lit.
“We didn’t even notice. I guess if it’s only for one hour and if it’s to conserve energy, it’s a good thing,” said Pam Burtenshaw, who was visiting from Indiana.
While many Strip resorts said they would be informing guests about the event, Burtenshaw and her husband said they didn’t hear anything about Earth Hour at the Monte Carlo, where they were staying.
“It seems like Las Vegas is the last city to be concerned about conserving energy,” John Burtenshaw said.
Andrew and Jennifer Perkins from California snapped a few photos of the dark marquees from near the Bellagio fountains.
“I think it’s really neat. It’s for a worthy cause and it sends a good message,” Jennifer Perkins said. “Plus, it’s not something you see every day.”
The couple said they received a letter this morning from the Bellagio, where they were staying, asking them to shut off all their lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
“We just got here this morning and received it, so I could see if you got in late, you might not know what’s going on,” Andrew Perkins said.
Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 when more than 2.2 million people shut off their lights in support of action against climate change. Last year, the event attracted more than 80 million participants in the U.S. and nearly a billion people worldwide.
Henderson and Boulder City did not participate in Earth Hour, but in North Las Vegas, the city turned off the lights of its Justice Facility dome.
The Fremont Street Experience, home to the largest LED screen in the world, chose not to participate in this year’s black out, but many of the downtown casinos did.
“What the public doesn’t know about Las Vegas and where we really are leading the league is in the area of sustainability,” Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said at the Earth Hour press conference earlier this month. “The city has really dedicated itself to going green in every single respect.”