OK, so it is officially Dec. 31 in the world’s craziest party city (or NYE for all 10 of you drunks who happen to stumble upon this blog), and I’m already on deadline. Well sort of … OK, not really. There’s no timetable for the Web, right? So when I first found out I would have to actually work tonight instead of, say … um, celebrate (DRINK) — I was none too happy. Then again, if you’re gonna have to work on the biggest night of the year, the Las Vegas Strip is not a bad place to have to file a story. (First notice of disclosure: If this blog becomes incoherent at any point, I’m sorry Sin City got the best of me yet again!).
I don’t really know my assignment, other than provide a semiconscious (accurate) account of the evening’s events — focusing on flesh and fighting, and perhaps one of the three insane daredevils not sticking their ridiculous landings. And just how convenient is it that three people are trying to one-up each other in the same city on the same night? Thank God for ESPN! (Note to audience: Not sure if the casinos have odds on any of these jumps, but after hearing Robbie Knievel the other day in his pre-jump press confidence, I’m pretty convinced he might not even make the ramp. Yeah it was that bad).
If you’ve never been to Las Vegas on NYE, you probably think it’s an episode of Girls Gone Wild.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve lived in Sin City a year and a half and all I can hope for is that this year’s celebration lives up to last year’s festivities. On that glorious evening I witness an in-store liquor robbery near UNLV’s campus, a police beat-down of mega proportions as some hoser would just not shut his mouth on the Strip, and of course, a certain amount of Skinemax porn and twin sisters puking on each other to make the night complete.
Midnight, Wednesday morning — Whew! The night begins just like I’m sure it will end, with me on the computer keyboard’s 1s and 2s. After finishing up a few mindless tasks at the office, it was off to the greater Smith’s grocery in Henderson.
The Las Vegas Sun’s team/LV Weekly has set up two hubs to cover tonight’s festivities: one at Planet Hollywood, and another at the Palms. (Notice of disclosure No. 2: If you’ve never walked into a Honeymoon suite with another dude at 3 a.m. with two 36-packs of beer (I mean journalism juice), a case of water, maybe some Vodka, a bag of chips and salsa and pack of bubble gum, then: A). You’ve just never lived a complete life; B). Never had the bell boy give you the craziest look like, well, you know … Not that there’s anything wrong that.
So I finished stocking the mini fridge with more beers than H20s, naturally, and me and my fellow co-worker (you could call him life mate, everyone else does) took off. We got a nice little send off from Dave the valet, who despite demanding our Bud Light, gave us a nice rundown of how the NYE proceedings will go down. (Notice of disclosure again: If you’ve never left a Vegas casino around 5:30 a.m., you’ve probably missed the European guy walking in with the hot chick, while showing off the mini Fro Hawk. On the opposite side of the spectrum, is the native Missourahian rocking the patent jeans shorts and impressive ‘stache.)
6 a.m. Wednesday — Ok, so when you’ve already reached your 30th sunrise of the calendar year, you’ve got to embrace the local casinos and their various eating specials. For me, nothing beats a breakfast at the Baja Café at the Fiesta in Henderson. Yeah, yeah, I know the carpet looks like a page out of “Where the Wild Things Are” children’s books mixed with the sweet aroma of those blue hairs playing the slots.
But I’m telling you the Fiesta is like Manny Pacquiao, the pound-for-pound champ. The steak and eggs breakfast boasts an 8-ounce steak, eggs any way you want them, combined with toast and hash browns.
After we scarf the breakfast, it’s time for the traditional Megabucks. Since Nevada doesn’t have a state lotto, this is our best bet and the progressive total is up to $15 million, so it’s probably my time, if there ever was one.
I slide a $20 spot into the machine and on my third pull, hit a pot worth a couple hundred. I continued to play. C’mon it’s NYE. I’ve never seen the Megabucks logos dance around like they did this morning. I’m not a superstitious person, but having averaged a $10 sot a week in the Megabucks machine, I’ve never felt the feeling like I did today — so I had to let it ride. If I’m gonna believe in anything, it might as well be a Megabucks jackpot. It’s certainly not my liver (speaking of which, anyone know what those sharp pains mean?) Needless to say the day ended with my palms empty, but for a brief second that $15 million life-changer was as close as I’ll ever see it. I was a pull in a quarter away as the Megabucks lined up 3-4-5 just inches away from the payline. (But then again, that’s my life story).
2:30 p.m. Wednesday — After catching a necessary four hours of sleep and a quick shower, I’m off to watch my alma mater, Kansas, cover the spread and the over against Minnesota. Only problem, I forgot to get up early enough because of that damn breakfast to bet on Kansas. But thanks to Boston College, the bet I did get in, and their excellent special teams. Ugghh!
6 p.m. Wednesday — We make our way towards the Strip. One of the best scenes of the night comes up early in the night as I count nine — yes nine coppers — parked outside the psychic reading spot on the Strip (You can’t make this up). We move inside the PH and our waiting on Robbie Maddison’s big jump up 100-feet to Paris casino’s Arc de Triomphe.
Moments early, Maddison’s good friend, Rhys Millen, couldn’t pull off a clean back flip in a Red Bull truck at the Rio.
“It’s nothing unless if you drive away. I don’t know what happened,” said a disappointed Millen. “I’ll have to analyze some video. Too much effort to fall that short.”
If Maddison wasn’t scared before, ESPN showed a list of his numerous broken bones and what would happen if he miscalculated even the slightest tonight.
Instead Maddison pulled off the leap and the drop down to perfection just after the East Coast celebrated 2009.
“That was definitely a milestone in my life,” said Maddison, who seemed in shock after landing the unprecedented jump that created a large gash between his left hand and his index finger. “Now that it’s over, I’m glad I just landed it. Hopefully it meant something to some little kid out there somewhere.”
10:30 p.m. Wednesday — Officer Kevin Kyley wasn't impressed by Robbie Knievel's aerial assault over the Mirage's volcano, or the actual jump that occurred closer to the street. In fact, the correction officer for Metro was more impressed by the intoxicated individual who left chuck mark from his vomit stains in the vicinity where Knivel was originally supposed to land compared to the actual NYE jump.
11:30 p.m. Wednesday — Just a few feet from Knievel's shenanigans, a handful of religious zealots made it their top priority to make sure that everyone on the Strip knew they were sinners and needed to repent for their transgressions.
More than a few revelers did not care for the message the street evangelists were spreading and thus decided to take maters in their own hands. The religious uprising began when a few people began showing their disapproval by grinding out dance moves on the microphone-toting prophets. From there it escalated to a full-blown scuffle when a member of the religious banter tangled with the crowd. Metro cops arrested four, including one on a frivolous charge. When all the smoke cleared (there really wasn't smoke) four individuals ended spending the rest of their nights in county lock-up. The gospel-spreading individual went back to his pulpit. And the Strip carried on.
Midnight, Thursday morning — Happy New Year. The crowd raises an uproar as the New Year is ushered in by the thousands that attended the festivities on the Strip. Confetti, musical devices, and of course good old fashion screams, ushered in 2009. Minutes later as I try to make my way towards the other side of the Strip I run into three lovely Latina ladies from Mexico City.
Gisel, Debbie and Cara are no strangers to Las Vegas, but this is a special night as none have been here on New Year's Eve.
"It's pretty awesome, I could have never imagined all of this," said Debbie. "It's pretty exciting, there's so many people out here."
Indeed, as the hours wound down and the crowds slowly move from a trampled state to a sustainable impasse, it's clear that yet another New Year's Eve was welcomed into Sin City with little altercations. Sometimes the party is over-the-top, but at the end of this night the celebration in Sin City is just a representation of the rest of the county.