300,000 celebrate the new year in Vegas

Jan 1, 2010 7:16 PM


Sin City welcomed some 315,000 revelers for New Year's Eve with fireworks from casino rooftops, celebrity toasts at nightclubs and a traffic-free Las Vegas Strip. The downtown Fremont Street Experience hoped to host 35,000 partiers as it held a bash with nine bands and a countdown by Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. Bundled-up revelers began trickling in at 6 p.m. for a block party with plenty of street-side bars and 2010 knickknacks. Bartenders flipped shakers and danced on the bar, while crowds sang along with tribute bands playing hits from U2, Van Halen and Aerosmith.

On the Strip, actress Eva Longoria was scheduled to host at Eve nightclub at MGM MIRAGE's (MGM) CityCenter, the newest casino complex in town. Other celebrity hosts at various clubs included rapper 50 Cent, singer Robin Thicke, Nicole Ritchie and Maroon 5, while DJs Mix Master Mike, Jermaine Dupri and DJ Z-Trip were scheduled to spin. Las Vegas Boulevard was closed to vehicles from the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino to the Sahara. At midnight, more than seven minutes of fireworks were shot from seven casinos on the Strip, stretching more than four miles from the MGM Grand to the Stratosphere. The show cost an estimated $500,000 and was brought back to the rooftops after a toned-down fireworks show last year was panned by tourists, city officials and casino executives. Tourism officials said they expected the city's 148,000 hotel rooms to be 96 percent full as casinos slash prices to get more people in town. The estimate of 315,000 tourists eclipsed last year's total of 312,000 visitors, but the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said it expected folks to spend less than they did last year because of the bargains. The agency, which promotes tourism to Las Vegas, estimated revelers would spend $183.4 million, down from $199.5 million last year.