I’m at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas. Sitting opposite me is an older woman (older than me by several years).
The lady tells me she is from the Kansas City area, is waiting for her son to pick her up, and had just spent nine days at the Plaza. Why is she staying at the Plaza? Because her room, a suite, was comped. (Obviously, a gambler of some means.) How did it go with the gambling? “I was ahead the first three days, then I lost,” she said with a shrug, “but it happens.”
“Have you ever stayed on the Strip?” I asked. “Many times,” she said, “but after my husband died, I’ve preferred downtown.” Why downtown? “The Strip is too big and too crowded,” she said. She doesn’t mind downtown crowds though; she thinks they are “fun”. She loves the music and the street dancing. And safety? She says she feels very safe downtown because “there is plenty of security”.
Interesting. In fact, during my own walk down Fremont Street last week, I ran into one security person on a bicycle who said that with the number of security people and cameras on Fremont Street, “Nobody is going to steal your purse and get away with it.” I liked hearing that, whether the boast was an exaggeration or not. Later, I also met two gentlemen, Chris and Isiah, who were wearing matching khaki shirts with large “R” logos. The men were members of the Downtown Rangers. They told me their job is “DASH,” downtown assistance, solutions and hospitality. They said their job is to help with directions, information and “If you don’t feel safe we’ll even walk you back to your car or your hotel,” said Isiah. Impressive.
I made my own very safe walk down Fremont Street during the day on a weekday. The crowds were small and the experience was delightful all around. The street was clean. The costumed characters hadn’t yet donned their disguises, and I only saw two gentlemen asking for handouts. (A day earlier one gentleman in my own neighborhood stopped me and asked for change, so locations don’t really matter.)
As the attached video indicates, some of my favorite entertainers are now downtown headliners and that makes me want to visit there more often. Upcoming festivals promise good times for the party crowds, and with all that the Downtown Project is doing “near” Fremont Street, one can imagine that the heart of Las Vegas can once again be everything former Mayor Oscar Goodman and current Mayor Carolyn Goodman hope it to be.
So walk with me in late August, 2013….as we see what’s happening on Fremont Street.
Photos in video courtesy of Las Vegas News Bureau.