Always impressive, mesmerizing and a tad cheesy, on New Year's Eve, the Fremont Street Experience inspired love, wonder and even a craving for something not quite legal in Las Vegas.
"It's beautiful!" Richard Reed, a Durango, Colo. resident who was visiting the Experience for the first time, exclaimed as he took in all the excitement around him. "My little brother told me this was the best place to be."
If eight tribute bands, $18 football-shaped cups filled with a cocktail of choice, Mayor Oscar Goodman and a fireworks show were reasons to be excited, then Reed's brother was right, and he wasn't the only one who felt that way.
The large welcoming crowd for 2010 packed in tight as they took in the sights of the show, accompanying concerts and parade of characters filling the Downtown street. Despite the potential for claustrophobia, the mood was light. Strangers hugged and smiled. Locals waded through the masses to catch a glimpse of Oscar Goodman hosting the countdown, flanked by showgirls and cradling his trademark martini.
For some, the countdown meant more than just the welcoming of a new year. "As the countdown started at five I took the ring out of my pocket and slid it onto his finger," explained Andres Alcala, from Redmond Wash., about his New Year's proposal. "I told him, 'Even though I'm an asshole, will you spend the rest of your life with me?'"
Prior to the countdown, Fremont's brightly lit Viva Vision canopy projected a scrapbook of memorable moments from 2009. "I've been down here a lot for New Years; we like the light shows," said Leah Wagner from Lake Norman, N.C.
But the holiday's alcohol-fueled energy also resulted in a few casualties - an abundance of beer bottles scattered on the ground for someone else to pick up and the overly festive mood of many in the crowd. As Greg Johnson from San Diego, Calif. explained, Las Vegas is still the best place to come to party — "I wanted to get faded!"