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Alan Choate
 

New Year's Eve show gets new look

31 December 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- For New Year's Eve, organizers of the annual fireworks show on the Strip are trying something new: shooting off pyrotechnics from parking lots and garages instead of the rooftops of Las Vegas' famed casino resorts.

And that means the climax of "America's Party" is going to be harder to see if you're not in the thick of it all on Las Vegas Boulevard.

"If you're used to seeing it from all across the valley, it's not going to be like that this year," said Michael Mack, marketing director for Las Vegas Events. "It's designed for people on the Strip.

"If you do plan to view it, just take into consideration the viewing angles. Use the map and try to position yourself near one of those locations."

The decision was made after Clark County started new rules requiring a fire safety engineering inspection if fireworks are being launched from a roof.

With the new rules, "it became time-consuming and cost-prohibitive to do those studies," Mack said.

Felix Grucci Jr., vice president and CEO of Fireworks by Grucci, offered an upbeat view of the change.

"It's a more intimate program for the audience," he said. "They'll be able to not only see it, but they'll be able to hear it better, and feel it, and sense it, and actually smell it.

"This will be a much more sensory type of program."

While people still can see the fireworks show from off-Strip locations, "they may not see it in the entirety that they saw it in years past," Grucci added.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority predicted that 291,000 out-of-town revelers will be on hand for New Year's Eve, a figure that is down slightly from last year's estimate of a little more than 300,000.

STRIP SHUTDOWNS

This evening, the Strip will be closed to automobile traffic, and several on-ramps and exits on Interstate 15 will be shut down.

The Nevada Highway Patrol is expected to close all ramps at Tropicana Avenue, Flamingo Road, Spring Mountain Road and the Harmon Avenue overpass starting about 5 p.m.

Closures on the Strip usually start about an hour after the ramp shutdown begins. Cars will not be allowed on Las Vegas Boulevard from Russell Road to Sahara Avenue.

Police also said Frank Sinatra Drive is not a good alternate route because of construction and expected heavy traffic by hotel employees.

Also, part of Las Vegas Boulevard -- from Spring Mountain Road to the south end of The Mirage property -- will be closed to pedestrian traffic from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. to accommodate a televised motorcycle jump over the volcano at The Mirage. The jump features daredevil Robbie Knievel, son of the late Evel Knievel.

Another scheduled motorcycle jump, at Paris Las Vegas, is not expected to disrupt street traffic. Motocross star Robbie Maddison plans to jump his bike more than 120 feet and land on the top of the resort's replica Arc de Triomphe. Both stunts will take place about 9 p.m.

Unaccompanied minors cannot be on the Strip from 6 p.m. today to 5 a.m. Thursday, police said. A ban will be in place for aluminum cans and glass bottles. Revelers are encouraged to use plastic containers and should not carry large bags or backpacks that could contain cans or bottles.

DON'T SHOOT!

North Las Vegas police are promising stepped-up enforcement of firearms laws to reduce celebratory gunfire meant to ring in the New Year.

It's part of the city's What Goes Up Must Come Down campaign.

There will be extra officers on patrol tonight, with some specifically assigned to respond to gunfire calls, Police Chief Joe Forti said.

"We intend to curtail this behavior as much as possible before someone gets seriously injured or killed in our city," Forti said. Injuries have occurred in the past from celebratory gunfire on New Year's Eve.

Residents should call 911 if they see someone firing a gun and can help police pinpoint the shooter's location. But refrain from reporting "possible gunfire" because those noises often turn out to be fireworks, police said.

FREMONT FREE FOR LOCALS

Organizers have dubbed the party at downtown's Fremont Street Experience "TributePalooza," which is to feature bands that re-create the music of Billy Joel, the Eagles, David Bowie, KISS, Queen, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones.

There will be fireworks for the new year, too: a specially designed show that takes place under the video screen canopy.

The fireworks are made for indoor use and will be hung from cables attached to the canopy, Grucci said.

"It looks like an aerial show bursting in the sky, but it was hung there," he said. "It will be a unique experience."

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is scheduled to join the festivities at 10:30 p.m. and lead the countdown to the new year.

Tickets are free with a Nevada ID and $20 for visitors. The concerts start at 6 p.m. For more information, call (877) 834-2748.