Las Vegas Sun

January 16, 2018

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Downtown Las Vegas ushers in stricter curfew and tighter security, frustrating many


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

People are frisked and wanded before they can enter the Fremont Street Experience early Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013.

Fremont Street Security

Anna Pokrovskaya, left, and Zlata Pavlova ask Metro officers if they can have a photo taken with them at the  Fremont Street Experience early Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Shivering at a downtown bus stop, Desteny Camacho kept her back to the street and concealed her face with her long, dark hair to avoid being spotted by police.

Camacho, 16, had hoped to see the Fremont Street Experience on the first Friday of the month because she knew the place would be bustling with revelers. She didn't know that starting that night, a weekend curfew bans everyone under 18 from the area if they are not accompanied by a parent or guardian past 9 p.m.

"This curfew is killing us," Camacho said, sounding defeated. "It sucks."

Camacho and three of her young friends had hopped on a bus that night and made the trek to Fremont, scurrying back to their bus stop when they realized other youngsters were being handed $300 fines for traversing the area unsupervised.

The new ordinance came as a puzzling surprise to some adults, too. Adding to the confusion, the curfew overlapped with Las Vegas BikeFest, which was blocked off by barricades on Fremont and restricted to adults over the legal drinking age who were patted down and given free wristbands to enter.

Some revelers complained about the barricades and carding stations, calling them a nuisance. Many rolled their eyes and shook their heads as guards waved metal detector wands and inspected bags and purses.

"It's ruining Fremont Street," Las Vegan Marion Pulse said after being carded at a barricade and chatting with a group of officers. "It's not cool. Nobody likes this (expletive)."

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An inebriated woman is helped up off the ground at Fremont Street Experience early Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013.

Others said they were glad youngsters were being kept off Fremont Street.

"I don't see anything for kids to do here except get in trouble," said Danielle Garcia, 23. "I can't judge, though — I did my fair share."

A mile from Fremont Street, the First Friday art walk went unaffected by the new ordinance, though many there trickled to and from Fremont. Some believe the monthly event draws more to East Fremont, where redevelopment incentives have helped bring bars and restaurants into the area.

For months, Metro Police have tried different measures to get a handle on the hordes of visitors that descend on Fremont the first Friday night of each month.

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People get backed up while they are searched and have their identification checked before entering the Fremont Street Experience early Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013.

Lt. D. Gordon attributed the crowd control measures to the overlapping events, noting that the barricades, guards and extra cops would be gone by Saturday night.

First Friday organizers emphasized that the art walk is not tied to Fremont Street, which is sometimes associated with large, unruly crowds and underage drinking.

"We can only control what happens within the footprint of the First Friday event," spokeswoman Alissa Kelly wrote in a prepared statement. "The event does not take place on Fremont Street."

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