Perhaps it was the sight of a man holding a pair of rose gold balloons marked with the number 21.
Perhaps it was someone else’s voice calling out to him, “Yes, 21! Get drunk, woo! “in bulk in front of the Miracle Mile Shops.
Or maybe it was the man in a Harley Davidson shirt sitting alone in a chair enjoying the sun in the middle of Roman Plaza in front of Caesars Palace. Shoes were off, feet out, and Bud Light and Diet Pepsi bottles on his right side.
Without the masks and ubiquitous signage reminding visitors to stay three feet apart, you’d be forgiving for walking down the Strip on Saturday afternoon thinking it was just another weekend in March.
“I took some pictures to send to my son in Chicago and I said, ‘I can’t believe so many people are out there,” said Laura Amendala, 55, from Las Vegas, who was around 4pm in Chicago, the Linq Boardwalk was sitting and wearing two masks, “I couldn’t even go into the Bellagio parking lot to see the Botanical Gardens. It was full.”
Crowds flooded the Strip on Saturday just two days before casino capacity restrictions rose from 35 percent to 50 percent on Monday. Many diners in casinos and stores stood shoulder to shoulder or in close proximity to one another on Saturday, despite diners seeing signs saying “Please wear a mask” in several strip hotels, including Paris Las Vegas, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, are available, widely noticed. Planet Hollywood Resort, Miracle Mile Shops, and Bellagio.
A woman with a mask around her neck just before 3 p.m. at The Cosmopolitan was reminded by two suitable staff to pull her mask over her face. She stayed.
Thousands walked the strip’s sidewalks, every other person wearing a mask over their nose and mouth. Lines formed in front of several facilities on Linq Promenade, particularly the walk-in alcohol counters and an in-n-out burger. The smell of cigarettes and grass filled the air.
Amendala, sitting next to a fountain on the crowded promenade, noticed her discomfort at the thought of pulling down her masks to eat or drink.
“It’s scary just because mask compliance is an issue,” she said.
Yolando Hagwood, a 54-year-old Orange County resident, was in Las Vegas for the first time since August 2019, he said outside of Planet Hollywood. He has a timeshare and usually comes three or four times a year but stayed away until his week-long vacation that ends on Sunday.
He too wore two masks.
“I think most companies are trying to hold on and still give people a good time,” said Hagwood. “You can’t go against people. You will see people without masks. You will see people who do not distance themselves socially. But you’re just trying to do your part. “
Contact Mike Shoro at [email protected] or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.