Las Vegas gears up for New Year’s Eve blast

Dec 31, 2001 10:49 PM

The “largest fireworks display in the world” will light up Las Vegas, where an estimated 280,000 revelers will ring in the New Year.

Choreographed to music, the 7-minute, 11-second show will be launched from 14 resorts along Las Vegas Boulevard. Strip venues include Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, MGM Grand, Monte Carlo, Aladdin, Bally’s, Flamingo, Venetian, Treasure Island, Sahara, Circus Circus and the Desert Inn property. The Stratosphere downtown is also participating.

“It can be seen from a distance, and it will knock your socks off as the fireworks cascade over the buildings,’’ said Erica Brandvik of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The LVCVA is sponsoring the $500,000 show for free.

The pyrotechnics are being provided by the Grucci Family, the Long Island-based company responsible for fireworks at most recent presidential inaugurations. Accompanying music will blare through speakers along the Strip and will be simulcast on Infinity radio stations including KLUC 98.5-FM and KMXB 94.1-FM.

Some 540,000 feet of cable will connect the computer-driven show with the venues, producing precision “chase-wave scenes” up and down the Strip. Designer shells for the show were imported from Australia, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Spain as well as the United States.

“It’ll be patriotically themed,’’ said LVCVA spokesman Rob Powers. “One of the effects is going to be stars and stripes. A lot of what they’re doing on the patriotic theme is a result of the events on Sept. 11.’’

Off the Strip, all Station Casinos will also shoot the works and the Fremont Street Experience will stage its annual private street party downtown. In all, 23 hotel-casinos are planning some sort of fireworks display.

Though the New Year’s show is brighter and louder than last year, casinos expect a slight dip in visitors. LVCVA’s Powers says the tourist numbers will be down about 2 percent.

“The town is filling up, but there are still rooms available,’’ he said.

Among the deals on the table as of late last week:

”¡ The Golden Nugget was offering three nights at the casino, plus tickets for the New Year’s party on Fremont Street featuring performances by the Bangles, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Rare Earth for $231 per person, based on double occupancy.

”¡ Bally’s posted a special rate of $150 per night while its sister property, Paris, was running $299 a night. Show tickets are included in both packages.

”¡ The Palms had two-night packages starting at $599, including champagne and admission to the new resort’s spa.

“Normally New Year’s Eve at this time is sold out,’’ MGM Mirage spokeswoman Shelley Mansholt said last week. “We’ve got rooms available at most of our properties. This is unprecedented.’’

Casino marketers blamed the drop-off on sluggish travel from overseas. But domestic visitors were picking up the slack last week as traffic was bumper to bumper on I-15 from California.

The influx had suburban clubs like the Fiesta boosting their rates by the weekend. With just 30 rooms left by Friday, the Station property was charging $199 for New Year’s Eve ”” and requiring a two-night minimum. Normally, the Fiesta’s rooms run as low as $29.

Meantime, the holiday will have concerts galore, with shows ranging from Tony Bennett (Paris) to the Doobie Brothers (MGM), Loveshack (Texas), Patti LaBelle (Caesars) and Billy Idol (Mandalay Bay). Production shows will all be in full swing, too, of course.

The star-studded lineups ”” on top of a fireworks ensemble that includes recordings from Frank Sinatra, Gloria Estefan, J Lo and the Irish Tenors ”” should make for a roaring good time inside and outside the casinos.