How Have the Holidays in Las Vegas Changed Over the Years?

The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village

The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village

Las Vegas is a city with two populations and personalities: local and visitor. The overlap was greater in decades past, when Fremont Street was a civic mix of parades, retail and professional offices alongside the casinos. The main drag was decorated every December with a period-appropriate collection of tinsel and garland (some of which seems to have made its way to Main Street this year), attached to light poles and stretching across the street. Photos of that era suggest Las Vegas was much like any other small American town, despite the obvious differences.

Families would load up the station wagon for an organic version of today’s Glittering Lights (at Las Vegas Motor Speedway), cruising Rancho Circle (and later, Tompkins Circle) to marvel at the kind of extensive light displays money could buy. This was before intrusive HOAs and territorial gates. Also different? Before the Internet, holiday shopping was a spirited social experience that kept locals employed. Progress doesn’t always mean we have progressed.

Thankfully, there are still non-gated neighborhoods that embrace the holidays. And there are local places (Magical Forest at Opportunity Village, Holiday Spectacular at Springs Preserve) that envelop attendees with the sights, sounds and spirit of the season. For my time and money, that’s more civic-oriented than price shopping from my laptop in sweatpants, and it reignites the spirit of Old Vegas that lives within.

What do you think about Downtown’s White Cross Market closing?

Judging from the social media chatter, I think people love drama. After all, facts aren’t nearly as fun as gossip!

White Cross opened in 1955 as the only 24-hour pharmacy on the Strip, and one of only a handful citywide. That remained true at the turn of the 21st century, but it’s definitely not today. White Cross closed in 2012 (the neighboring supermarket was already gone), but in 2013 a new owner tried reinventing it, leaning perhaps too heavily on craft beer and wine until announcing that it would close this week. Meanwhile, the property’s 24-hour diner (first Tiffany’s, now Vickie’s) keeps cranking out the griddle-fried burgers.

Change always equals opportunity. Recently, someone floated the idea of an international food court for the vacant grocer space. Forgive me if it sounds pedestrian, but I’d wager a Trader Joe’s would do just fine there. In the meantime, can we get some breathless doom-and-gloom about closures in suburban shopping malls? Or is that not as click-baity?