Snowbound in a casino – the situation could be worse

Nov 28, 2000 1:20 AM

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. -- Stranded in a casino. Can it get any better than that?

While a fierce winter storm brought nearby Buffalo, N.Y., and its surrounding area to a literal standstill, dumping up to 25 inches of snow in a 24-hour period, this Canadian town had a dusting of the white stuff.

But the storm in Buffalo meant stalled and abandoned vehicles blocked many of the main traffic arteries from the U.S. The New York State Thruway, for instance, resembled a parking lot.

Where possible, driving was snail-slow and looking through the windshield into the snow was like trying to drive a car while looking through a milk bottle.

As a result, the City of Buffalo and many of its northern suburbs declared a state of emergency and posted travel bans (as if you could go anywhere) that were in effect for the three day heading into Thanksgiving weekend.

Granted, Monday and Tuesday are not big day for Casino Niagara, especially during the stark winter months when tourists are scarce, but the storm across the river meant other problems in addition to the drop in attendance.

Gamblers, especially bus tours, from the U.S. side of the international border, couldn’t go home, as road closures stretched to Rochester.

For most people, having nowhere to go but to a slot machine or gaming table is the answer to a fantasy. But let’s face it. Not many of the gamblers who arrive via motorcoach are of the high roller variety. In most cases, it’s a day of fun -- not day and night and day and night of fun.

Casino Niagara general manager Jay Meilstrup made sure that the stranded patrons were placed in nearly hotels and made comfortable for the night. The exact number of those needing housing assistance was not made available, but suffice it to say, Casino Niagara took care of its customers.

In the four years since the gaming facility opened, neither rain, sleet, snow nor any other inclement weather has kept gamblers from making their rounds.

"Certainly the storm put a dent in our attendance," said public relations manager Tanya Hvilivitzky. "But not because of snow around the casino. We had almost no snow -- maybe an inch."

"In the past, we’ve had storms here, but nothing of the magnitude that they get across the border."

Nutcracker returns to Turning Stone

VERONA, N.Y. -- Class and a classic are on the holiday season menu at Turning Stone Casino Resort when the great Russian ballet The Nutcracker is performed by the touring Moscow Ballet on Dec. 9-10.

The Moscow Ballet features the top 50 dancers from Russia, along with 450 brilliant costumes. The Russian performance distinguishes itself from American presentations of the beloved program by turning the fairy tale into a story of falling in love and welcoming adulthood.

The two-a-day performances will be enhanced by the choreography of Oleg Nikolaiev.

Prior to The Nutcracker, Turning Stone welcomes Glen Anthony to the 800-seat showroom on Dec. 6. He brings his delightful Christmas Show for an afternoon matinee. Atlantic City storyteller Steve Harris and singer Dina Clair will be showcased.