I beg your pardon, sir; you have no idea how many summers I’ve seen. That being said, I’ll admit it’s been enough to offer my three bits of sagebrush advice: Protection, hibernation and hydration! Never leave the house without slathering at least a 15 SPF on your face and arms. If you are the type who tans after a few minutes of trying to score a royal flush, maybe a trip to REI for SPF-rated clothing is in order. Next, stay indoors between 2-6 p.m. every day—preferably under a ceiling fan spinning at take-off velocity. If that’s not possible due to your job, change jobs. And finally, water isn’t just frozen into small cubes over which whiskey is poured. Get yourself a refillable bottle and drink up. Still too hot? Try psyching yourself up with this morning mantra: It’s a dry heat that’s never hot enough for ya!
You’d be hard-pressed to find an adult child of Vegas who doesn’t have a Helldorado story, from marching in the parade (and passing out from heat stroke at Seventh and Fremont) to enjoying the barbecue dinner on the lawn at the Convention Center Rotunda (and then hurling it while riding the Zipper) to getting carted off to “jail” in the middle of a workday for not wearing one of the Elks’ $1 Helldorado buttons (and waiting to be bailed out for charity). In many ways, the Western-themed festival is quintessentially Vegas. Launched in 1934 by a carnival barker named Clyde Zerby as a moneymaking scheme that capitalized on the hordes of workers and visitors flocking to the Hoover Dam project, the first event showcased a bawdy burlesque show and other Western-themed activities that tilted toward the wild. After the completion of the dam, Helldorado quickly evolved into a (dare we say it) family-friendly festival of rodeos (and rodeo queens), a carnival midway, the Whiskerino beard contest and the parade down Fremont Street. Over the years, it became an integral part of the local cultural landscape in a city grasping for one. After a short hiatus (starting in 1998, when Las Vegas was getting too big for its chaps), the downtown festival was reborn in 2005. This year’s edition starts May 17, so I hope you’ve been growing those whiskers!