by Ray Poirier |Lenins statue lost its head within a month of its first appearance in front of the Red Square restaurant in the Mandalay Bay Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas in the late 90s. Funny, a similar furor didnt take place in Atlantic City.
Not everyone is happy with the 15-foot statue of the Russian communist dictator at the Tropicana Hotel. In fact, Al Garrett has been calling for the statue to be torn down since it first appeared. He says the statue is an insult to thousands of soldiers who died fighting communism.
For months, he has written letters to the editor of local newspapers and has appeared on radio stations calling for the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City to junk the statue.
Recently, Garrett has taken a new tack. He is now calling the statue "bad luck." And maybe there is something to his statement considering the hotel/casino, now being pedaled off by a state-appointed trustee, has been in a rut since it was purchased by a division of Bill Yungs Columbia Sussex company.
When the casinos license was terminated, the gaming regulators ordered that the property be sold.
"Ever since they put that statue up," Garrett said recently, "theyve had nothing but bad luck. To them its just a cartoon, but its like putting a statue of a serial killer in front of your restaurant."
So far Garrett has generated very little support for his argument.
The restaurant, once a fixture of the newly-built Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, features the sale of vodka, lots of it. They have over 100 varieties in their frozen ice bar. Patrons also nibble on $275-an-ounce caviar.
As for the Lenin statue, the restaurant owners say, "Its part of the culture of Russia." Sort of like Lenin, communism, vodka, they add.
"Youve got to have some type of symbol people associate with," says restaurant manager Joe Masauri.
When Garrett points to the propertys "bad luck," Masauri notes that some 18 months after the restaurant opened, Aztar Corp. sold the Tropicana for $2 billion.