"...gonna set my soul, Gonna' set my soul on fire"...Viva Las Vegas ~ Elvis Presley
This week's Travel Tuesday finds me playing in my own backyard. "Gambling Capital of the World", "Lost Wages", "Sin City", "Glitter Gulch", and "The Entertainment Capital of the World" - it's VEGAS! Once a year my dad goes hunting in CO, and Mom hops a plane to visit us here in the sparkling desert. We pack as much fun as we can into 10 days, which isn't hard to do in this town. In addition to the obvious (slot machines are in every grocery store and gas station in town - they're not just for casinos anymore!), are the shows.
Seven in ten days this year (eight, if you count the new Jane Fonda movie, the same day as the last show we took in). And, after taking my Dad to a few Burlesque shows for his 80th birthday this summer, I figured "turnabout was fair play", and YES, I took my Mom to Chippendales! My daughter treated the three of us girls to the fabulous Broadway production of KINKY BOOTS (if you get the chance, GO!), with the remaining days filled with shopping, Blue Man Group, Viva Veracruz (a Mexican National dance extravaganza that Planet Hollywood brought in to celebrate Mexican Independence Day), Steve Connolly/Spirit of the King (you should always throw an Elvis show into the mix in Vegas), Chippendales, Rita Rudner, and Legends in Concert.
Our choices for entertainment are plentiful and varied here - this past weekend we got the chance to see the great Rod Stewart, yet again (the quintessential showman), and Jim Belushi and The Sacred Hearts blues band the following night. My friend, Jackie, and I love nothing more than good blues and old rock. WAY up front for both shows - fabulous THISCLOSE seats - it's been one hell of an entertaining fall, one month in!
But, the fun isn't ALL to be had right on Las Vegas Boulevard - The Strip, as it's affectionately know. Fremont Street, downtown, is the original Vegas. A street of firsts - the first hotel was built here in 1906; first telephone went in in 1907; first street paved in 1925; first Nevada gaming license; first traffic light; first elevator; and the first high rise. It also boasts the first structure designed, from the ground up, to be an actual casino...the Golden Nugget. (These three and the one on the upper left below are stock photos - credit where credit is due. The rest of the Vegas shots are all me, baby!). It's changed a bit over the years, but the iconic landmarks are still in place.
By 1992, more than 80% of the Vegas casino market was on The Strip. Looking to breathe new life into the Fremont Street area, a 5-block strip of the street was closed to traffic, and a 90 ft. high, 90 ft. wide, and 4 block long (1500 ft. in length) video screen was erected overhead - completed in 1995. Dazzling light shows, nightly, are shown on the Viva Vision Screen, comprised of 12.5 million energy-efficient LED lamps. The 6 minute show changes hourly, with high resolution imagery in perpetual motion, and concert quality sound resonating under the "big top"! Why, there's even a zip line under there, originating from the massive "Slotzilla" at the east end of the street.
They tried to keep the integrity of the original casino fronts and signage. In fact, Las Vegas has been paramount in bringing back the original old neon signs from years gone by. Restored and placed strategically throughout the downtown area - we're happy to see them enjoying new life.
Vegas Vicki and Vegas Vic have always been there - and always will be. They're married, you know.
One of our 10 nights found my Mom, another friend from CO, and me at a show on The Strip - after which the friend inquired about what Fremont Street looked like after all these years, which was all I needed to hear. Always "game" for an adventure and a chance to show someone the sights and sounds, we headed downtown for an hour at 10:30 p.m...
Putting us there just in time for the 11:00 light show - psychedelic merriment by graphic artist John Van Hamersveld on the massive screen overhead, while Time of the Season, by The Zombies, resonated throughout Fremont.
Lucky enough to have remembered to grab my real camera for the evening...the colors and images were eye dazzling!
Peace, love, and pop images, circa 1968. There are also various stages positioned throughout the area, with live concerts going on during the evening...and it's all free!
Groovy cats...and kittens! Dig it?!
While I know a lot of visitors with small children head to Fremont Street because of this draw (and because of the "free" thing - I get it), PLEASE be forewarned that it's really NOT as "family oriented" as one might want to believe. This is still a gambling town, first and foremost! Street performers, many in various stages of undress, line the four blocks during the raucous evening hours. It's a different atmosphere from The Strip - definitely something everyone coming through town should experience at least once. The people watching is PRIME - it's just not a place for the little ones. REALLY!
You WILL be amongst a crowd on any given night. But, it's actually fun...even if it's for an hour only. There's just something about Fremont Street that you won't get anywhere else in town! Maybe, thankfully!
Universally considered to be the "Neon Capital of the World", as well. Where else are you going to find a neon showgirl seemingly stepping out of a huge neon martini glass, complete with olive (I admit to being positioned at just the right angle to make this appear so). You can see it all, here...and you will. Viva Las Vegas! There's music below, if you can find the arrow in the middle...