undled-up revelers began trickling in at 6 p.m. for a block party with plenty of street-side bars and 2010 knickknacks. Bartenders flipped shakers and danced on the bar, while crowds sang along with tribute bands playing hits from U2, Van Halen and Aerosmith.
On the Strip, actress Eva Longoria was scheduled to host at Eve nightclub at CityCenter, the newest casino complex in town. Other celebrity hosts at various clubs included rapper 50 Cent, singer Robin Thicke, Nicole Ritchie and Maroon 5, while DJs Mix Master Mike, Jermaine Dupri and DJ Z-Trip were scheduled to spin.
Las Vegas Boulevard was closed to vehicles from the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino to the Sahara. At midnight, more than seven minutes of fireworks were shot from seven casinos on the Strip, stretching more than four miles from the MGM Grand to the Stratosphere. The show cost an estimated us$ 500,000 and was brought back to the rooftops after a toned-down fireworks show last year was panned by tourists, city officials and casino executives.
Gone from the festivities were stunts. Last year, three stunts were performed in Las Vegas as part of television specials. This year, television networks Fox, ABC and CNN all planned New Year's Eve programming from Las Vegas. Tourism officials said they expected the city's 148,000 hotel rooms to be 96 % full as casinos slash prices to get more people in town.
The estimate of 315,000 tourists eclipsed last year's total of 312,000 visitors, but the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said it expected folks to spend less than they did last year because of the bargains. The agency, which promotes tourism to Las Vegas, estimated revelers would spend us$ 183.4 million, down from us$ 199.5 million last year.
In downtown Reno, several casinos pooled efforts to bring back fireworks in hopes the display would add excitement and encourage more visitors. The tradition went on hiatus last year as companies tried to save money. They planned a us$ 65,000, 15-minute show with Michael Jackson-themed music.