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Las Vegas embraces the party as 2021 ends — BLOG

Updated January 1, 2022 - 2:10 am

Check out our team’s coverage of New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas from the Strip to Fremont Street.

12:46 a.m.

Power outages at 2 Strip casinos

According to a statement from Clark County spokesman Erik Pappa, “A power box caught fire, causing power outages at the MGM Grand and New York-New York, both of which are operating on backup power.”

Full power was restored to both resorts about 1:30 a.m., Pappa said.

Carri Geer Thevenot

12:45 a.m.

The party’s over

Las Vegas police began breaking down barricades on the Strip and kicking revelers off the roadway.

Ricardo Torres-Cortez

12:45 a.m.

Darkness at MGM Grand

Power was out at the MGM Grand just after the new year, with the sign outside dark and lots of darkness inside the hotel. Slot machines and a few TVs were operating, but table games and most bars and restaurants had lost power.

The lobby and the iconic lion sculpture were surrounded by unusual darkness as people passed through the area.

Escalators had shut off, and a group waited around an out-of-service kiosk for Las Vegas monorail tickets.

Jonah Dylan

12:30 a.m.

The aftermath

The crowd headed for the exit as Fremont Street Experience crews swept up broken plastic cups and “Happy New Year” headbands and hats. A man sat at the base of an escalator with his hands on his face looking down.

Some took advantage of the mini red carpet and Fremont Street Experience backdrop for a photo opportunity.

David Wilson

12:22 a.m.

Fremont partiers head east

As has been the case in prior New Year’s Eve celebrations, there was a post-midnight migration of revelers from Fremont Street Experience — after fireworks had concluded — toward Fremont East, where the bar-lined street became the most packed it had been all night.

Shea Johnson

12:10 a.m.

Crowds disperse

As soon as the Strip fireworks displays ended, droves of people made a mad dash for the nearest casino entrance.

Following the on-again-off-again wind and sprinkles throughout the night, the wind seemed to pick up just after the finale.

For many, their 2022 came in with a bang, quickly cooling to a fizzle with the brisk winter winds.

Mick Akers

12:10 a.m.

A cancellation, but a quick fix

Boos rang out from the crowd at the Fremont Street Experience as organizers announced that Vanilla Ice’s plane was turned back in Denver and he wouldn’t be performing as scheduled.

But spirits were soon buoyed when they were informed that Bobby Brown, Flavor Flav and Tone Loc will perform a set together instead.

— David Wilson

12:00 a.m.

We have ignition

Blustery winds not withstanding, fireworks shows on the Strip and downtown erupted right on schedule as the clock hit midnight.

Husband and wife Jake and Paula Yegen locked lips as the fireworks started to cheers in front of the MGM Grand.

People filmed the display from all angles, shouting “Happy new year!” as they did.

The Inspire nightclub at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street provided audible notice that 2022 had arrived, with a countdown booming from the open-air rooftop above the third floor, which then immediately resumed into a dance party.

The expected “woos!” could be heard by those who didn’t rush into the Fremont Street Experience for a closer look at the fireworks show from the Plaza hotel.

Kisses were abundant under the canopy as the fireworks arced overhead, with couples smooching and taking selfies as smoke wafted through the crowd,

“Happy new year to you, bro,” said one man, fist-bumping strangers as he passed them in the crowd.

— Jonah Dylan, Shea Johnson and David Wilson

11:55 p.m.

Medical treatment for revelers

By about midnight, medical personnel had taken six people from the Strip to area hospitals and two people to medical tents. Of those who needed medical attention, three were for falls or trauma, county spokesman Erik Pappa said. Three others had too much to drink, and one person needed treatment for sickle cell anemia. Details were unavailable for the remaining patient.

Blake Apgar

11:55 p.m.

The Goodmans take the stage

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman just took the stage at the Fremont Street Experience with her husband Oscar, two show girls, and two muscular men wearing tank tops and bow ties.

“We are the luckiest people on Earth,” Oscar Goodman said of being in Las Vegas tonight.

— David Wilson

11:40 p.m.

‘We just need it for our sanity’

The sidewalk in front of Resorts World, just outside the closed off area of the Strip, was sparsely populated for most of the night. But by 11:30, small groups of people gathered to wait for fireworks.

A 29-year-old woman named Hope, who declined to give her last name, said she and her husband were watching the fireworks at Resorts World because they’re staying at the hotel and were surprised there wasn’t a larger crowd.

“There are a lot of people passing by so we were kind of worried we were missing a good spot,” she said.

She and her husband, who are from Long Beach, California, haven’t been to Las Vegas since before the pandemic, Hope said. But they decided this trip was worth it with their booster shots.

“We just need it for our sanity,” she said.

— Katelyn Newberg

11:05 p.m.

Missed out on reservations

Kate Greathouse and Andrew Mott posed for photos in the center of the Strip at Flamingo Road in matching onesies, about an hour before the new year.

Greathouse and Mott drove to Las Vegas from San Diego on Thursday, having decided to ring in the new year on the Strip just a few days ago. That meant they couldn’t get a restaurant or club reservation, but the couple were enjoying the night nonetheless.

What would they do differently next time?

“Wouldn’t have planned so last-minute!” Mott said.

Jonah Dylan

10:55 p.m.

‘A little too cold’

After a somewhat disappointing New Year’s Eve, Lorena and Santiago — who declined to give their last name — were getting ready to call it quits.

“It’s a little too cold,” Lorena, 35, said, standing outside El Cortez casino.

The couple from Riverside, California, had intended to go to the Fremont Street Experience but were unaware it was age-restricted and brought their young daughter.

They had no reservations about traveling and celebrating in Las Vegas amid the pandemic, and Lorena said they had “thankfully” not been personally affected by the crisis.

She hoped that the new year brought more of the same.

“As long as we have health, that’s all that matters,” she said.

Shea Johnson

10:55 pm

‘Bobby, Bobby, Bobby!’

The Fremont Street Experience crowd chants “Bobby, Bobby, Bobby!” for singer Bobby Brown. When the music starts, phones and hands are in the air, swaying back and forth as the wind whips through the packed crowd. Fire shoots from each side of the stage, providing brief moments of warmth.

People holding open cups try to maneuver through the crowd without spilling their drinks in an effort to get closer to the stage. Some look up to the big screen to get a better look at the performance.

David Wilson

10:45 p.m.

Like a big birthday party

Kim Jay wore a gray, sparkling sequined jacket with a sash draped across her chest and declared that it was her birthday.

“Ah, 2021,” she said, noting that it had been “very, very challenging” for her family.

The family suffered unexpected “tragedies” and “atrocities,” she said, noting that COVID-19 played a part.

But, since it was her 55th birthday, she was content.

“It’s like celebrating with the biggest party ever,” said Jay, a visitor from Chicago with her sister and nephew.

In 2022, she said, “I’m looking to the new year with fresh eyes.”

Ricardo Torres-Cortez

10:25 p.m.

Foot traffic picks up on the Strip

Winds had died down a bit, and foot traffic along Las Vegas Boulevard had picked up about 90 minutes before the new year countdown. The smell of marijuana, which is illegal to smoke in public, whiffed in the breeze.

Jacketed Las Vegas police officers kept an eye on revelers from a barricaded driveway set at the center of the Boulevard. A police helicopter circled above, and a drone hovered. At least one officer could be seen with a long gun.

Ricardo Torres-Cortez

10:25 p.m.

Waiting for the fireworks

An artist at one of the many kiosks along the Fremont Street Experience spray painted artwork with some of his other pieces displayed for passersby and those who stop to watch the artist work.

Nearby, Pete and Gloria Mendez, of Lancaster, California, looked up at the canopy screen. They have been to Las Vegas before but never for New Year’s Eve. Their daughter Natalie is with them.

“We just decided to try and do something,” Gloria Mendez said.

They said they enjoyed 2021 but are ready to be done with pandemic restrictions such as masks. Their favorite part of Fremont Street has been the concerts. but they’re looking forward to the rest of the night.

“I want to look at the fireworks,” Gloria Mendez said. “I’ve never seen them here in Vegas.”

David Wilson

10:25 p.m.

‘Like a tradition’

Jonathan Diosdado and about six of his family members were standing in front of Resorts World, playing music from a speaker and dancing in place while waiting for fireworks.

Diosdado said he and his family were going to watch the fireworks from the Strip’s newest property because they weren’t allowed past Spring Mountain Road with their cart and stroller. They were turned away due to the restrictions on large items like backpacks.

The 20-year-old and his family are from Las Vegas, but he’s been celebrating the new year with tourists on the Strip since he was a kid.

“It’s like a tradition coming out here,” Diosdado said.

Katelyn Newberg

10:15 p.m.

Two hours away

Nearing midnight, the wind and rain appeared to die down as the action picked up on the south Strip, where more people started to flood into the street in front of New York New York and Park MGM. Music from the Bridge Bash trickled out to the street as dancers yelled out that 2022 was less than two hours away.

Signs reminded people that strollers and other items were prohibited in the area, but a few still got through before they were shuttled away by police officers.

Most people continued to head north on the Strip before the fireworks celebration planned for midnight.

Jonah Dylan

10:01 p.m.

‘There’s COVID out here’

Two men were preaching to passersby on the corner of Fremont and Sixth streets, using a cement road barrier as a makeshift lectern, having set their Bibles atop the flat surface.

“There’s COVID out here,” one man said into a microphone. “That ain’t stop no one from trying to be wicked.”

Such preaching has become a yearly fixture in downtown Las Vegas during New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Shea Johnson

9:33 p.m.

Visitors from Idaho, Utah gather downtown

Outside El Cortez casino, 29-year-old Taylor Walker, of Idaho, was waiting for others in her party to arrive.

The casino and Walker’s grandmother, who lives in Henderson, shared something in common: an 80th birthday this year.

“My mom had dropped us off and saw the sign, and she was like, ‘Take a picture for me,’” Walker said.

Walker was with her fiance, 31-year-old Dustin Sacolick, also of Idaho, and her sister, 28-year-old Emily Walker, of Utah.

For the three, the cool temperatures barely registered, and neither was particularly eager to put 2021 behind them.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Sacolick said.

He said he also was looking forward to 2022, when he will marry his fiancee.

Shea Johnson

9:25 p.m.

Family time on the Strip

Despite the early blustery winds and slight sprinkles, Jeff Banas and his family from south Orange County, California, weren’t worried that the inclement weather would spoil their Vegas New Year’s Eve.

Banas said the usual lure of a Las Vegas Strip party drew him, his wife Loraine and toddler Darren to Sin City.

“Just the excitement, the fun and the craziness,” Banas said. “All of the above.”

As 9:30 p.m. neared, the crowd near Caesars Palace was still fairly sparse, with groups of people heading north and south toward different destinations.

Banas said the recent surge in COVID-19 cases never had his family second-guessing their trip to the Entertainment Capital of the World.

“I think 2022 is going to be a better year than 2021,” Banas said, as his child appeared ready for bedtime. “I’m very wishful, and you’ve got to stay positive in the whole situation.”

Mick Akers

9 p.m.

Seeking ‘something different’

Carla Power and her family trekked on a snowy Southern California highway to ring in 2022 in Las Vegas for their first time.

She said the trip, which they have made several times, took two hours longer.

But they arrived, seeking “something different,” she said in Spanish.

Power, who inquired about what to expect at midnight, said they did not have a specific plan, as long as they enjoyed it as a family.

Despite the long drive and the possibility of a fireworks cancellation, she said the trip would serve as a good memory and anecdote they will be able to bring up in future conversations.

Ricardo Torres-Cortez

8:50 pm

Decked out in costumes

Gared and Anna Aguilar, of Las Vegas, stood between stages at the Fremont Street Experience decked out in ’80s and ’90s costumes. Gared Aguilar dressed as Tommy Chong with a bushy fake beard covering most of his face.

“It was a lot better than last year, that’s for sure,” Gared Aguilar said of 2021. “Still a little strange, but we’ve been adapting to it for the most part.”

Anna Aguilar dressed in classic ’90s attire.

“I’m looking forward to spending more time with my husband and being able to go on trips,” Anna Aguilar said of 2022.

David Wilson

8:50 p.m.

’Over’ the pandemic

Most people were wearing masks as they walked the sidewalk near Fashion Show Mall, an area still rather quiet near 9 p.m.

Ximena Zepeda, 21, took pictures of her friend as she posed with the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore in the background. The two women from Houston, Texas, said it was their first time in Las Vegas.

Zepeda, who wore a blue surgical mask and lots of layers to combat the cold, said she was “over” the pandemic.

“I wish people would get vaccinated and get it taken care of,” she said.

Zepeda said she was a little worried celebrating New Year’s Eve with the omicron variant surging, but she was trusting her vaccine and wearing her mask constantly as a precaution.

Katelyn Newberg

8:32 p.m.

‘Laid-back’ locals

The second New Year’s Eve under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic was the first one downtown for lifelong Las Vegas resident Kiara Chatterton.

Chatterton, 21, and her boyfriend, Jacob Tole, 26, may have preferred a quieter night and potentially considered driving to a remote spot to watch the fireworks, which remained uncertain to go off due to high winds.

“If we were away from the city, that was our plan,” Tole said.

But Tole’s brother was in town from North Carolina, along with his girlfriend, and so the hosts wanted to show them a good time.

Waiting for their order outside the Raging Tacos food truck on the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard, the couple, not wearing masks, said they were not worried about the pandemic and a crowded night on the town.

“We’re pretty laid-back people,” Tole said.

Shea Johnson

8:25 p.m.

Last-minute trip to Vegas

The south Strip started to open to foot traffic just before 8:30 p.m., and Robert Gonzalez was one of the first on the street along with his girlfriend, Riga Chow.

The pair live in Los Angeles and decided to come to Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve at the last minute, because “why not?!”

Gonzalez snapped a few photos of Chow before they headed up the Strip to dinner at Hexx. He said they felt safe, even with the uptick in COVID-19 cases in the area.

“We’re vaccinated, and we wear masks,” Gonzalez said, adding that he liked the fact that they could be outside in an area with a lot of open space.

Jonah Dylan

8:25 p.m.

Buses, armored vehicles block Strip

Las Vegas Boulevard at Spring Mountain Road was shut down to traffic early in the night, and by 8:20 p.m. two Regional Transportation Commission buses were parking diagonally in the roadway, completely blocking the street to cars in front of the Palazzo.

Armored cars and trucks with sandbags also were seen blocking roadways and casino entrances.

Heavy winter coats covered sequined dresses and suit jackets as crowds of people walked down the sidewalk, stopping only briefly to take pictures with showgirls or shoot video of the Mirage’s volcano. Strong gusts of wind blew water droplets from the display across the street as people hurried to escape the cold.

Katelyn Newberg

8:22 p.m.

Village People draws crowd

People packed tightly together as Village People began its performance. After brief technical difficulties, the band resumed with its next song. The crowd grew so large it formed a wall separating the Fremont Street Experience into two sections. Crossing to the other side is a tight squeeze and requires the buddy system.

David Wilson

7:46 p.m

Bellagio fountain show canceled

Winds whipped through the south Strip, and traffic was still moving south of Flamingo Road. A few wayward tourists crossed the seemingly empty street, and a police car quickly directed them back off the street.

The wind also had a major impact at the Bellagio. At 7:45 p.m., passersby were greeted by an unfortunate announcement — the fountain show scheduled for 8 p.m. had been canceled. It was unclear if later shows would go on.

Showgirls’ feathers fluttered in the wind, and people had their celebratory hats blown off their heads as they continued to brave the elements.

Jonah Dylan

7:45 p.m.

‘It’s a good time’

Married couple David and Lisa Miller posed for a selfie overlooking the Strip. David wore blinking 2022 glasses; his wife had a crown marking the festivities.

“It’s a good time,” David Miller said. “I love Vegas.”

The Los Angeles couple celebrated New Year’s Eve here five years ago, “but it seems kind of dead right now,” he said.

Bringing up the weather, David Miller said it was not cold — after all, the couple celebrated in New York City a few years ago, when the temperature was around 10 degrees.

The couple were heading to an off-Strip bar to meet up with a group of friends and had 11 p.m. dinner reservations.

Ricardo Torres-Cortez

7:33 p.m.

Strip performers in action

Despite the winds whipping up, many of the usual Strip performers were out to try to capitalize on the influx of pedestrians.

Within 20 feet of each other were a pair of scantily clad showgirls and a duo dressed as Mickey Mouse and a character from “Paw Patrol.”

Both groups declined to speak about their plans for the evening.

The group of showgirls seemed to draw the most attention, taking several photos with partygoers — for cash tips, of course.

Mick Akers

7:21 pm

Entertainment continues on Fremont Street

A Flock of Seagulls closes out its set with “I ran.” The crowd sings along — loudest at the chorus and encouraged by Mike Score.

People hold up their phones, dance and bounce along. Hands go up on the final note, followed by cheers as Score exits the stage.

As the crowd disperses, Rene and Sheri King and their friend Aman Tad remain waiting for The Village People to take the stage.

The Kings have homes in California and Las Vegas and travel all over. Tad lives in Everett, Washington, and is visiting Las Vegas for the first time.

Tad was born and raised in Ethiopia and is sporting a Seattle Seahawks chain. Rene and Sheri King are sporting festive hats.

David Wilson

7 p.m.

Law enforcement on the Strip

Law enforcement finished clearing the Strip while revelers were braving a frigid, breezy evening with drizzling rain.

At least one couple was told by a Las Vegas police officer that they would not be allowed at the festivities with their stroller.

Police officers and the Nevada National Guard were stationed along Flamingo Road.

Ricardo Torres-Cortez

6:50 p.m.

Reports of wind, rain

Rain is falling on the Strip at Tropicana Avenue, and wind has been stirring up dust near the Wynn Las Vegas.

Jonah Dylan and Katelyn Newberg

6:43 p.m.

A Flock of Seagulls performs

A couple sways arm-in-arm away from the large crowd gathered in front of the First Street stage at the Fremont Street Experience as A Flock of Seagulls performs.

Mike Score sings and plays the keyboard in a black jacket and shiny, tight black pants that reflect the pink light illuminating the stage. Score is projected onto the canopy that runs the length of the Fremont Street Experience.

— David Wilson

5:50 p.m.

Strip closure begins

Officials have begun closing a large portion of the Las Vegas Strip as an estimated 300,000 revelers descend on the city.

The Metropolitan Police Department expected the Strip to be completely closed to vehicle traffic by 8 p.m. between Spring Mountain Road and Mandalay Bay Road.

Eight hotel-casinos are scheduled to participate in an eight-minute fireworks show at midnight, but weather could put a damper on the celebration.

Carri Geer Thevenot

5:45 p.m.

Wedding bells

Stephanie and David Kereluk planned to come to Las Vegas to get married on New Year’s Eve, and at 12:31 p.m. today, they did just that. Stephanie Kereluk was still in her wedding dress and ready for a fun post-wedding celebration at the Fremont Street Experience.

The couple traveled from Grayling, Michigan.

“It’s a second wedding, but this was perfect. I loved every minute of it,” Stephanie Kereluk said.

David Wilson

5:35 pm

Lining up at Fremont Street Experience

Susan and Terry Eckstein from Appleton, Wisconsin, were the first two people in line to get into the Fremont Street Experience New Year’s Eve party, which was to start at 6 p.m. This is their first trip to Las Vegas.

“It just seems like a raucous time,” Terry Eckstein said.

They’re most excited to hear A Flock of Seagulls perform as one of the bands making up the ’80s and ’90s themed party.

Terry Eckstein started humming the band’s classic “I ran.”

David Wilson

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