Mar 302010

One thing I really wanted to do before we left Las Vegas was visit Fremont Street for the Fremont Street Experience. Glitter Gulch, historic downtown Las Vegas, was where the gaming industry began, and the old casinos here paved the way for the newer, fancier paces further south on the Strip.

Glitter Gulch got its name both from the glitter of coins dropping into slot machines, and the glitter of the neon signs that light up the night like daytime. The big places on the Strip may have unique architecture and big name acts on stage, but downtown Fremont Street is still classic Las Vegas.   

Fremont casino sign

Neon Cowboy sign

Never content to sit idly and watch the world pass them by, the folks who operate the old casinos downtown knew that they had to come up with an idea to compete with the new places springing up all over, and the plan they came up with is a winner.

Several blocks of Fremont Street were closed and turned into a pedestrian mall, and a four block long overhead canopy, equipped with a $17 million digital video display system featuring  state-of-the-art LED technology with 12.4 millions bulbs and live action capabilities was installed .

Last night we decided to hit Fremont Street, and I’m really glad we did! To me, it was the best part of our visit to Las Vegas. The crowd was smaller than on the weekend, and we spent a couple of hours just soaking it all in.

Fremont street crowd

Fremont street crowd 2

There are certain moments that define our lives, and one of them for me was when I came home from overseas. Several of us packed ourselves into a taxi for the ride from the airport to the base, and the car radio was blasting out a song I had never heard before, but came to know well, Don McClean’s American Pie.  The song is the anthem of the Boomer generation that grew up in the 1950s and 60s, and I never hear it without it taking me back to that late night taxicab ride.

So when the canopy above me lit up with a psychedelic display, and the words to American Pie started booming out of the huge speakers along Fremont Street, I was enthralled. I stood there, my head craned upward as images from the past were displayed overhead, tapping my toes and singing along to the music, a huge smile on my face. For a few moments, I was 19 again. I can’t explain it any better to you than to say that you have to experience it for yourself. I didn’t want the song to end.

American Pie Don McClean flags

American Pie psychadelic

American Pie headlines

American Pie roof 2

After the song was over, the lights came back on, and an all girl singing and dancing act came onto a stage to entertain us. They were a hit with the crowd, especially the young guys who all crowded up close to the stage for a better view.

Dancers 2

When the band ended their act, we just enjoyed people watching for a while.  For a buck you could pose for a picture with an Elvis character and his pals, or a Las Vegas showgirl. I thought that the girl beat Elvis and Austin Powers hands down.

Elvis group

Showgirl and kid 2

Later on, the lights dimmed again, and there was an overhead tribute to the Doors. It was good, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as I did American Pie. We could have hung around a while longer for a Queen tribute, but we were getting tired and decided to call it a night.

We are supposed to leave Las Vegas on Wednesday, but a storm system is moving through the area, and strong winds are predicted today and tomorrow, with gusts over 50 miles per hour. If the weather is that bad, we’ll either see if we can extend our stay here at Thousand Trails for a day or two, or find someplace else where we can wait until things clear up.

Thought For The Day – If both of our troubles were hung on a line, you would take yours and I would take mine.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  8 Responses to “Fremont Street Experience”

  1. It looked like two copies of your posting got published, but when I clicked on “0 Comments” there was only one! Ah, the mysteries of blogging. Anyway, Don and I really enjoyed this post because we had the Fremont Experience recently with some good friends. We didn’t get to hear American Pie – I love that song, too, and it brings back lots of fond memories from that era, but none as poignant as yours. Thanks for a great photo shoot and report.

  2. Nick, that was a great report on Glitter Gulch. We have not seen that, but now you’ve made it a must-see on our next trip through that part of Nevada.

  3. Nick,
    If you need a place the North Vegas Elks is a good spot not a cheap as 1000T but has power, water and dump. and not that inconvenient to stuff in Vegas only draw back is the planes from Nellis but that is the sound of freedom.

  4. Fremont is my most favorite place in Vegas and your pictures do it justice. I was there for the summer of ’69 and got to see Rare Earth perform. Really took me back! I enjoy reading your blog and get lot’s out of it. Keep ’em coming.

  5. We just met my sister from Ark in Vegas for a few days and stayed at the Golden Nugget, because we left the rv in Calif. The rooms were $39 & $49 during the week and very nice. It’s just as nice as any hotel on the strip.

  6. Nick,
    My wife & I have a time-share in Vegas, & any time we go it’s the one thing we don’t miss, doing the Fremont Street Experience, & like ” American Pie “,it never gets old

    Love your blog & Bad Nick too

  7. Glad you got some night photos…we only made it there during the day. Fun place!

    Like you, we are hunkering down till the storm is gone. They are talking possible snow in Joshua Tree…nope, not gonna do it! So right now we will sit here outside Borrego Springs, loving the area & boondocking!!

  8. Hi Nick,
    My husband and I were at the Fremont Street Experience on Veterans Day (2009) and they posted all the people who died in Vietnam – VERY EMOTIONAL!! Glad you got to see the show and recommend it to anyone who goes there!!!
    Also agree with Rod – the Elks in NLV is a great place to stay.

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