Friday, April 15, 2005

Las Vegas Centennial

My early years were spent in Las Vegas when it was still a vast desert. We lived on the West side of the Strip. For fun, we raced lizards and ran after the ice cream truck. My next door neighbor was a singer at one of the hotels and my uncle had a TV show and was a radio DJ. My mom would wear false eyelashes, mini-skirts and big wigs when she and my dad headed out for a night on the town. The Thunderbird was all the rage.

Teenagers used to jump from the top of buildings into pools, turn their eyelids inside out and shoot me in the foot with BB guns as the Rolling Stones played in the background.

It was the Wild West. But I have always recalled it fondly. Years later, with that warm place in my heart for the desert I decided to go to college there. Yes, they have a school there, the No. 2 ranked school for hotel administration. The basketball team, however was No. 1.

But my second stay in Vegas wasn't anything like the first. The city practically ate me alive. Still, I stayed for 10 years. I have strong ties to Las Vegas and it continues to enchant me.

It's not the Strip or downtown or Steve Wynn's latest hotel. It's the people and their dogged pursuit of community in a land where tipping the customer over and emptying his pockets is the name of the game.

Now Vegas is celebrating its 100th year in business -- it is after all a business, isn't it? -- kicking off the events with none other than my favorite band -- the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ahhhhhhh, Vegas, you can still get to my heart. Here is Vegas' centennial site.

For more Vegas history click here.