Record number of security forces slated for New Year’s Eve on Las Vegas Strip

Ideal three-day weekend on the calendar? Check.

Massive choreographed fireworks show? Check

Financing in place for “America’s Party” in Las Vegas? Check.

All that’s really left to get ready for Southern Nevada’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration are the finishing touches on a security plan that provide the confidence that visitors need to go out and have a good time in a community shocked by the reality of tragedy.

When the clock strikes 12 as Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, turns to Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, memories of the 1 October mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival will be about three months old.

But there will be reminders along the Strip of the efforts to preserve one of Southern Nevada’s favorite traditions — celebrating the arrival of the new year.

No bags or glass

Message boards along the streets leading toward the Strip are already telling prospective New Year’s Eve revelers to be prepared not to take big bags and glass to Las Vegas Boulevard.

When partiers prepare to greet 2018 on the Strip, they’ll see a vanguard of soldiers and police officers — more than the number ever assembled for New Year’s security in previous years.

That will buy the presence of 348 Nevada National Guard soldiers to secure 22 different locations. Last year and the year before, there were about 160 troops in place.

“After Oct. 1, we all agreed we needed to relook at that and give it a different look based on new analysis from that (shooting) event,” Caleb Cage, chief of Nevada’s Division of Emergency Management, said in a telephone interview Friday.

Longer presence

In addition, soldiers will be in place longer.

“Instead of being there the day before, the day of and the day after New Year’s, which has been the case in the past, they’ve got the request staggered over about a five-day period,” Cage said.

The five-day presence will cover the entire long weekend as well as provide a lead-in to CES 2018, which will occupy most of the city’s convention space the week after people change their calendars.

Another security measure that was successfully deployed for the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon last Sunday will be used for New Year’s Eve.

In the past two years, $120,000 a year in resources has been authorized through the state’s Division of Emergency Management-Homeland Security. This year, with memories of the shooting tragedy still fresh, the funding request is $340,000.

That will buy the presence of 348 Nevada National Guard soldiers to secure 22 different locations. Last year and the year before, there were about 160 troops in place.

“After Oct. 1, we all agreed we needed to relook at that and give it a different look based on new analysis from that (shooting) event,” Caleb Cage, chief of Nevada’s Division of Emergency Management, said in a telephone interview Friday.

Longer presence

In addition, soldiers will be in place longer.

“Instead of being there the day before, the day of and the day after New Year’s, which has been the case in the past, they’ve got the request staggered over about a five-day period,” Cage said.

The five-day presence will cover the entire long weekend as well as provide a lead-in to CES 2018, which will occupy most of the city’s convention space the week after people change their calendars.

Another security measure that was successfully deployed for the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon last Sunday will be used for New Year’s Eve.

Buses a roadblock

Tina Quigley, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, confirmed that buses not only will be used for conveyance, but will be strategically parked at key intersections to protect against a terror attack by motor vehicle.

While the financial approvals for security are in the home stretch, the dollars for the party itself have been allocated for months.

The “America’s Party” spending is built into Las Vegas Events’ annual budget. The private events-planning company that works the details on behalf of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority allocated about $600,000 — around the same as last year — for a pyrotechnic show that already has been choreographed by Fireworks by Grucci.

Pat Christenson, president and CEO of Las Vegas Events, said Thursday that his board this week gave a last glance to party plans in a short meeting.

New Year’s Eve festivities will include themed fireworks on the Strip and live concerts and fireworks under the Fremont Street Experience canopy downtown.

Seven launch sites

The seven launch locations identified for fireworks are the same as they were last year: Aria,Caesars Palace, MGM Grand,Planet Hollywood,Stratosphere, TI and The Venetian. Rio will again be used as a security command center for the celebration.

Specific details about the celebration, including instructions from Metro, color on the Grucci show and reminders about transportation, will be announced in a press conference in early December.

But for now, it isn’t too early to send out those invitations.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Money behind the plan

Financing the security plan is nearly through a three-step approval process. The state office received the initial request from the Clark County Office of Emergency Management, coordinating with Las Vegas Metro and the Clark County Fire Department. The request was first reviewed by Caleb Cage’s office, approved for consideration by the Board of Examiners, then approved by that board for review by the Interim Finance Committee, which is scheduled to meet in early December for final consideration. Cage is chief of Nevada’s

Division of Emergency Management.

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