The middle of December is a busy time in Las Vegas. The month started off with us participating in another Great Santa Run on a Saturday morning. The weather was nice, sunny with not much of a breeze and fairly warm. We don’t run at the Santa Run – most of the participants do a leisurely stroll around the one mile course. Some people do attempt the 5k run, but usually the rest of us get in their way and some get really frustrated at the crowds. Geez, if you want to run don’t do it at a fun thing like this. Everyone gets a Santa suit to wear, so it is strange being surrounded by over 10,000 Santas in red suits and beards. Some people wear similar outfits, and a lot of people decorate strollers and dress up their kids and dogs. This year a bunch of food trucks were out in the assembly parking lot, so food and drink was available. Gourmet food trucks have become popular in Vegas, with followers eagerly seeking their favorites. Later the NASCAR Champions drove their cars down the Strip before running at the speedway.
The next day was another running of our annual Rock and Roll Marathon. Last year it interfered with the cowboys in town for the rodeo, this year it was a year ahead of rodeo start to avoid that. The marathon started at 3:30 pm, with runners in a half marathon starting at 4:30 so as not to interfere with the fast guys. There were over 7,000 in the full and 25,000 in the half, so it was quite a crowd. Both routes started down at the south end of the Strip in front of Mandalay Bay, ran up Las Vegas Boulevard to Fremont Street, wound around downtown a bit and back down to end in front of the Mirage. There was a run through wedding chapel, with 30 couples getting hitched, multiple Elvi and lots of people in costumes. With the early winter sunset the course gave everyone two views of the big resorts, one in daylight and one after dark with all of the lights on. I used to say neon lights, but now almost everything has converted over to LEDs, with large screen video displays replacing all of the lovely old neon signs. And I do mean large screens – picture a high def TV over 100 meters across, sometimes in multiples across the front of a casino, all flashing with patterns alternating with videos of people inside having a good time.
The rest of the month is devoted to cowboys - the following week the South Point Casino hosted the World Series of Team Roping finals (still going on now), with over $6,000,000 in prize money, the top guys getting $1.75 million – some reward for all of that hard work. The National Finals Rodeo has most of its events over at the Thomas and Mack center on the University campus near the airport. There is a big Cowboy Christmas event at the Sands and the Convention Center.
The big resorts are catering to the cowboy crowd as well, with a lot of country and western entertainment available. Unfortunately Garth Brooks finished up his stay at the Wynn early, closing out after three years of shows, but Shania Twain started her multiyear events over at Caesar’s Palace (I hear it is rather impressive, from her entry on a flying motorcycle to riding in on a horse), and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are at the Venetian.
The Miss Universe competition will be held at Planet Hollywood mid month, and December will end with our big New Year’s Eve party in every resort and out on the Strip. Best place to be besides Times Square, and a lot warmer too.