Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau
Monday, May 31, 2021 | 2 a.m.
The countdown is an annual tradition in downtown Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve. Three, two, one ... “Happy New Year!”
And, just like that, a new year with new opportunity awaits the tens of thousands of locals and visitors packed into the Fremont Street Experience to celebrate.
Downtown will host another, arguably more significant countdown tonight as the calendar flips to June 1, signaling the end of pandemic gathering restrictions in Clark County.
The town, after about 15 months of business restrictions, will be fully reopened. As part of the festivities, live musical performances will start at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday at multiple stages within the six-block Fremont Street Experience.
It seems only fitting that a recorded message from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman will be played on the Experience’s “Viva Vision” digital display canopy just prior to midnight. Goodman is a fixture at the downtown celebration on New Year’s Eve.
In a statement sent to the Sun, Goodman said she is “excited” about Las Vegas being “fully open for business.”
“You can feel the enthusiasm and energy building as more and more visitors are coming to our city,” Goodman said. “People are ready to travel safely and have a good time, and there is no better place for that than Las Vegas.”
On the heels of a Deadmau5 concert at the nearby Downtown Las Vegas Events Center on May 21 — a performance that drew about 10,000 spectators — the “Downtown Rocks Again!” event will feature eight acts on three stages.
It will be the first time since the start of the pandemic last spring that live music will take place along the popular pedestrian mall.
“We are beyond thrilled to be part of the highly anticipated reopening of Las Vegas,” said Andrew Simon, president and CEO of the public-private entity that oversees the Fremont Street entertainment district, in a statement. “To support our local artists, revive our community and revel in the beauty of live events again, we chose to open our stages the moment we were given the green light.”
The band lineup June 1 will include acts such as Alter Ego, Zowie Bowie, Rock Steady, Velvet Elvis, Spandex Nation and Crush. There will be no charge to enter the pedestrian mall area.
Paul McGuire, a spokesman for Fremont Street Experience, said the return of live music to the downtown tourist corridor will be an important step for the city’s recovery. Comments on the Fremont Street Experience social media accounts have been abuzz over the return of live music, he said.
“Fremont Street Experience is known the world over for its free nightly live music,” McGuire said. “We wanted to open all of our stages the moment we were given the green light.”
McGuire said signs will be up next week to let visitors know that vaccinated guests are welcomed, but there won’t be temperature or vaccination card checks.
“We’re not putting an estimate on how many people will show up, but people are excited. This is going to be a community celebration,” McGuire said.
Downtown in the past two months since the widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has been slammed with visitors. June 1 will be another milestone.
“In the last couple of months, every weekend (downtown) has gotten a little bit busier,” said Derek Stevens, who owns the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center and three casinos, including Circa Las Vegas. “I think that’s reflective of what’s going on across the country. There are signs that we’re putting the pandemic behind us, and I think that will only continue to add to a huge desire that people have to come to Las Vegas.”
Carolyn Wheeler, executive director of the Downtown Vegas Alliance, a nonprofit business trade organization, said business owners on and around Fremont Street are looking forward to the this event.
“Tourists are coming back, yes, but it’s also very cool that locals are coming back downtown to support our small businesses,” Wheeler said. “There are more reasons to come downtown than ever.”
That was the case May 21 with the turnout for the concert at the events center. The scene looked like pre-pandemic times, with concertgoers closely together enjoying the show. Video went viral online.
“Deadmau5 was unbelievable,” Stevens said. “That was the first event to really signify that Las Vegas was back. I think people are showing that they are excited to be out and be around other people.”
The musical acts will play until 4 a.m. Tuesday, McGuire said.