We've been here a week and as usual we've run out of time to do everything on our list. We never made it to the top of the Stratosphere and never got out of town to the Valley of Fire state park to do some hiking. Our next stop is more outdoorsy and we'll just have to come back here again. When we do, there will be many more new hotels, new stores, new shows to enjoy. That's Vegas.
The Nascar crowd has left and been replaced by March Madness fans. Bands of college kids (literally bands with tubas and trumpets) are marching around playing, cheering and adding to the general merry chaos of the place. Banners honoring the teams involved festoon the lamp posts. And it's going to be St. Patrick's Day soon. What a happy place!
It's ironic that downtown Vegas where is all began is such a sad and marginal contrast. What brought us there anyway is the Mob Museum, a new museum remembering all the bad guys that made this town what it is. The museum is housed in the spot where the Estes Kefauver hearings began to turn the tide against the Mafia, which flourished with the opportunities Prohibition had provided. We sat in the very hearing room in front of the steel plated desk the judge hid behind during the hearings where most participants took the Fifth. Because the museum is so new, it had few stodgy display cases with mementos and featured videos and interactive displays. Many of the names and events were all too familiar. Our beloved home town featured many of the major players that ended up in jail or in pools of blood.
Since we were already downtown, we went to Fremont Street, the spot where the few casinos still flourishing there, built a ceiling/display area over four blocks of downtown. The ceiling shields the street from the summer sun and is a screen where colorful graphics are projected. This spot has turned into a block party, a festive space separated from the dreariness that is downtown Las Vegas. Casino signs blinked, scantily clad girls danced on the bar, Elvis impersonators Elvised, balloon guys made animals, you could have your picture taken with R2D2 or Batman, bands played, people danced, frivolity reigned. That's Vegas.