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60,000-plus expected for New Year’s

William Ferchland
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ About 30 minutes before midnight a sparse crowd ventured into the casino corridor to ring in 2005.
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With New Year’s Eve on a Saturday, some are predicting a crowd of revelers at the Stateline corridor numbering in the 60,000 to 70,000 range.

Part of the punishment for criminal behavior on New Year’s Eve in Douglas County includes having the guilty parties take out an advertisement in their hometown newspapers notifying readers what their charges were and how many days in jail were included in the sentence.

The mandated advertisement, which does not include the convicted person’s picture, reads: “I was arrested and convicted of criminal misbehavior in Stateline, Nev. Lake Tahoe is a great place to visit and vacation, but please remember to behave responsibly. I didn’t, so I was sentenced to ___ days in the Douglas County Jail. As a condition of my release, I agreed to publish this reminder to others.”

Sgt. Tom Mezzetta of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department said authorities will be keeping their eyes open for wrongdoers.

“We concentrate our enforcement on those individuals who, through their behavior, place others in jeopardy,” Mezzetta stated via e-mail. “Such things as fighting, fireworks and disorderly conduct will not be tolerated. People who throw projectiles of any nature, to include snowballs, into the crowd may find themselves in jail. Each year we experience someone being injured by such careless behavior.”

South Lake Tahoe police Lt. Terry Daniels, who is in charge of the department’s crowd-control strategy, requested an additional SWAT team from Placerville because of the anticipated crowds.

The extra unit will double the number of specialized teams on the California side, while Daniels noted the number of officers will be about 100.

“I’m absolutely comfortable we’ll have plenty of people,” Daniels said.

Last New Year’s Eve fell on a Saturday, prompting many to believe South Shore would be deluged with visitors. A blizzard that dropped a couple feet of snow and forced the closure of Highway 50 the night before downed those expectations with only an estimated 20,000 showing up.

“It was a very mild, easy year,” Daniels recalled.

Since the snowstorm reduced the crowd to one-third of its expected size, arrests numbers were also low. El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department reported less than a dozen arrests while the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department reported 14 arrests at the lake including 10 for disorderly conduct and one for battery on an officer.

And while the weather caused multiple cancellations among the 99 hotels, motels and lodges in South Shore, the snow had a lasting effect throughout the season in terms of visitors, according to Patrick Kaler, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority.

“It more than made up for it afterwards because we had such great ski conditions,” Kaler said.

Kaler didn’t have any hard numbers but was pleased by reports of prebookings.

“Everybody seems encouraged that it’s going to be pretty good,” he said.

One of those encouraged is Roy Summersgill, a guest services representative at Super 8 Motel along Lake Tahoe Boulevard.

Summersgill said only 15 of the motel’s 108 rooms remain open for reservations.

“It’s picking up and looking better,” he said. “Like I said, it’s guaranteed we’ll be sold out in a day or two, so yeah it’s coming along.”

At Tep’s Villa Roma restaurant, owner Sheldon Tepper anticipates a bustling New Year’s Eve weekend, just like the ones before it.

“I think it’s going to be very busy because it typically is,” he said.

Kaler said people shouldn’t be put off by the recent rain downpours at lake level since snow is likely dumping at the top of ski resorts.

Summersgill agreed.

“This year is not too bad simply because people who know how it works up here know the top two-thirds of ski resorts are buried (with snow).”


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