Thursday, October 31, 2013

Life is Beautiful in Downtown Las Vegas

Last Saturday, my son and I spent seven hours at the first day of the inaugural Life is Beautiful Festival, an amazing event that has transformed Downtown Las Vegas permanently.

The murals gracing the walls of so many downtown buildings were only part of LIB's over-sized artwork--which included storage containers stacked on top of each other and painted with the event’s signature heart. (A few girls climbed on them for photo ops before the police showed up and halted any more climbing.) 

Lawn chairs were placed haphazardly on sidewalks and even in the middle of Ogden.

My son and I wandered the streets all day, making two stops at the Culinary Village and one in Food Truck alley (LAVO meatballs, Sin City Hot Dog, KGB Burger). I know that sounds like a lot of food, but I had a teenage boy with me.

We walked through the Art Odyssey, where artists used rooms at the former Town Lodge Motel for individual galleries, and a water feature acted as a centerpiece for the central courtyard.

I pointed out the Fremont Center building to my son and told him how it used to be a Woolworth’s (where I sometimes shopped on my lunch hour when I worked for the police department in their offices at 601 E. Fremont, a building that now houses “Tripe B,” Backstage Bar & Billiards--although I found out later that my memory was off by a block: Woolworth's was at 5th Street.). 

We sat on the new grass in the Secret Garden, watched street performers, and rode the Ferris wheel, which gave us an expansive, bird's-eye view of the eastern portion of the valley (a view I haven’t seen since I worked in City Hall in the BT days--“Before Tony,” as in Hsieh).

Throughout the day, we stopped at stages randomly and always heard music playing in the background. We caught four bands: Alpine, Wallpaper, ZZ Ward, and Imagine Dragons (who closed their performance with Cirque joining them onstage).

It’s been sad for me to watch so much of Las Vegas fall into disrepair, disintegrating in front of my eyes, and to see Downtown get a makeover and a festival of this caliber gives me hope that Downtown may yet blossom into the place I know it can be.

If LIB comes back next year, and I hope they do, I hope they:
  • Come up with a better mobile app
  • Incorporate more shade (especially in Culinary Village)
  • Get a less-confusing entry and exit system
  • Give the Cirque performers an elevated stage (my son called them “Cirque du Can’t-See-Nothing”)
  • Find a venue for the “Learning” speakers where people under 21 can attend   

Bravo, Life is Beautiful! You were beautiful, indeed.

Were you at LIB last weekend?

See more of my pictures on flickr.

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