Las Vegas Sun

September 26, 2018

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Ready to party? Here’s the lowdown on celebrating New Year’s on Strip

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Steve Marcus

Fireworks fired from casino rooftops explode over the Las Vegas Strip just after midnight Jan. 1, 2014. An estimated 335,000 tourists were expected to visit Las Vegas for the New Year’s festivities. Photo taken from the Mix nightclub at Mandalay Bay.

2017 America's Party Plans Unveiled

Representatives from Las Vegas Events, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Fireworks by Grucci and local politicians watch a brief fireworks display during a news conference at the Fashion Show Mall Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016.  Details for the annual New Year's Eve celebrations in Las Vegas were unveiled at the news conference. Launch slideshow »

With the eyes of hundreds of thousands of revelers set on the sky that envelops the Strip, the annual fireworks show is set to begin at 11:59:50 p.m. Saturday.

How long is the show?

For the next eight minutes and 11 seconds, the Strip’s  New Year’s Eve celebration will put Las Vegas on the world stage, perhaps more so than any other day this year.

How many fireworks is that?

After a 10-second countdown, more than 11,000 electrical circuits will fire off about 80,000 fireworks.

How much does all that firepower cost?

This year’s show, which is financed by Las Vegas Events through funds from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, will cost $500,000, according to Michael Mack, vice president of marketing for Las Vegas Events. Fireworks by Grucci, a New-York based company, has coordinated the Las Vegas show the last decade.

From what hotel-casinos will they be set off?

Aria, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, Planet Hollywood, the Stratosphere, Treasure Island and the Venetian.

How many people are coming into Las Vegas this weekend?

The city is expected to welcome 319,000 visitors to the celebration, according to the LVCVA. About 98.5 percent of the 149,476 hotel rooms available were booked as of Wednesday, and tourists are projected to infuse $215 million to the local economy.

When did New Year’s Eve fireworks become a thing?

Fireworks started to be incorporated into the Strip’s New Year’s Eve celebration 17 years ago, Mack said.

“Las Vegas has always been a New Year’s Eve destination, even prior to the fireworks,” Mack said. “However, the fireworks have added a little extra to that celebration.”

If I’m heading down there, what kind of police presence can I expect?

Metro Police, which coordinates with local, state and federal authorities, keep hush about methods used during large-scale events.

Although there is no credible threat of an impending terrorist attack, the federal government this year designated Las Vegas' party as a special events assessment rating of two, Metro Sgt. Jeff Clark said. The only higher designation, rating one, is applied at events such as the Super Bowl.

This means there will be more personnel and tools available from federal agencies, Clark said. The increase of security, which is set to include undercover officers, federal agents and National Guard members, should be apparent to those who attend, he said.

All Metro officers will be available, either on duty or on call, in case of a serious event, Clark said. Officers were barred from taking days off from Dec. 28 to Jan. 2.

Authorities on Thursday reminded the public about the "If you see something, say something" campaign. "If it looks out of place to you or somebody else, it will definitely look out of place to us," Clark said.

Click to enlarge photo

"There's no better place to party and bring in the new year than Las Vegas,” Mayor Pro Tem Steve Ross said during a briefing from the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign on Thursday, Dec. 29.

What should I leave at home?

A county ordinance that passed earlier this year prohibits visitors of the Strip from bringing backpacks, large bags and purses, strollers, ice chests, luggage and glass bottles during special events. The ban will be in place from 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday, police said. Alcohol is allowed to those over 21 who carry their drinks in plastic containers.

And leave kids home as well?

Adults are welcome to bring their children to the Strip or downtown because the celebration is "family-oriented to some degree, but mostly adult," Clark said, suggesting attendees to have second thoughts about bringing their younger counterparts. That's because the temperatures will be chilly, it may rain and strollers are not allowed on the Strip.

How should I dress?

The celebration includes plenty of outdoor walking, so partiers should dress warm and comfortably, Clark said, suggesting you wear a coat and appropriate shoes.

How cold is it going to be?

Temperatures at McCarran International Airport, an official National Weather Service measurement site, should dip from the 50s into the mid 40s from about 7 p.m. to midnight, meteorologist John Salmen said Wednesday.

What about rain?

There’s about a 20 percent chance for showers on New Year’s Eve, Salmen said. But it’s not the rain that could affect the fireworks show — it’s the wind. As of Thursday, there was a breeze projection was set between 5 and 10 mph, the weather service said. Anything above 10 mph could jeopardize the fireworks setoff, which hasn’t been canceled in its 17-year history.

What’s the coldest New Year’s Eve on record?

The record low of 18 degrees was in 1990.

And the warmest?

A balmy 74 degrees in 1995.

When will Strip-area roads close?

Authorities will begin to shut down the Spring Mountain Road, Tropicana Avenue and Flamingo Road ramps from Interstate 15 leading to the Strip about 5 p.m. Saturday. They’re expected to reopen about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

All other streets that lead to the Strip from the west will begin to close about 5:45 p.m.

Officers will begin clearing leftover Las Vegas Boulevard traffic from Sahara Avenue and Mandalay Bay Road about 6:15 p.m. Saturday. Full restrictions should be in place by 6:45 p.m.

Road closure times could change without prior warning, police said.

How do I get around with all the restrictions?

To travel east and west near the Strip, motorists could use Sahara Avenue, Mandalay Bay and Desert Inn roads, Frank Sinatra Drive, Koval Lane, Russell Road, U.S. 95 and the 215 Beltway.

What does it take to clean up after that kind of party?

Tens of thousands of partygoers means there's a pickup of 12-15 tons of trash on the Boulevard, between Sahara and Tropicana avenues each year, Clark County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said. Once most revelers leave, cleanup begins about 1 a.m.

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Bally's employee Craig Mackelprang cleans the sidewalks on New Year's Day 2010 following the New Year's Eve celebration on the Las Vegas Strip.

That's when Republic Services arrives to take trash cans. Workers use blowers to push debris off the roadway before 26 street sweepers drive through, Welling said.

The effort, which includes 80-90 personnel from the Clark County Public Works Department and takes a few hours, typically costs the county $135,000-$180,000, depending on the day of the week, she said. The amount is separate from that of the other agencies that also participate.

What’s my best option to be a part of things, but not on the Strip?

The Fremont Street Experience will host the “America’s Party Downtown” under its canopy. Live music performances and a light show are scheduled.

The canopy will shut down to the public at 4 p.m. and gates will reopen two hours later, Metro said. For those who are not planning to go downtown or the Strip, the fireworks show can usually be seen from far ends of the valley or on television.

And for an memorable aerial view?

Sundance Helicopters is offering midnight flights for $399 a person. The flights include Champagne service and a limousine ride to and from the airport. There were only 72 tickets available Wednesday afternoon. Sundance is the only firm allowed to fly during the fireworks show, according to the company.

What are some other cool things to do?

A roundup of other New Year’s Eve events in the valley can be found here.

Las Vegas Sun reporter Jesse Granger contributed to this story.

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