Downtown gears up for Y2K |

Downtown gears up for Y2K

Most of the Christmas decorations have come down and the twinkling lights have been replaced by light from flickering vacancy signs waiting to take in the new year crowd.

“I think everybody’s panicking for no reason,” said Candi Tyson, owner of the The Island Restaurant and Bar. “It’s going to be a regular New Year’s.”

The Island is only a block away from the state line but Tyson isn’t worried about the throngs of people expected in the street.

“I’ve been here for four years and haven’t had any problems,” she said. “All we’ve done is make sick money and had a really good time … but I know a lot of people are panicking.”

The Island has a $20 cover charge but will give discounts to South Shore residents. “I don’t care about tourists,” Tyson said. “I just want the locals to have fun.”

Despite the lack of concern from people such as Tyson, some businesses in the Crescent V shopping center, and along Lake Tahoe Boulevard are taking extra precautions. The Heavenly Sports Shop, and the Tahoe Shirt Stop are boarding their windows as is Connie Roth, the owner of the Buffalo Trading Post.

“It was an all-day project,” Roth said of buying the plywood and fitting them to the store’s windows. Even more work will be necessary when they actually put the boards up New Year’s Eve.

Across the street at Cecil’s Market manager Jimmy Reclosado said everyone is “blowing this thing out of proportion,” and that the police presence will keep everyone in line.

Nearly 400 police officers from the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, the El Dorado and Douglas County Sheriff’s Offices and the California and Nevada Highway Patrols will be on hand at Stateline.

The South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center has been commandeered by police to be used as a command center.

According to Douglas County Manager Dan Holler, for the most part, law enforcement agencies are treating this like every other New Year’s celebration.

“We will have a little larger presence, but we haven’t taken any extraordinary steps other than that,” he said. “I think we are prepared so I’m not concerned about it … if something gets out of hand I will be very surprised.”

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe’s spokesman John Packer agreed.

“Ninety-nine percent of the people (in the street) are there to have a good time, and if there are some people who decide to get rowdy … that’s why the police are there,” he said.

Some residents plan on celebrating close to home.

Troy Wilken, 26, of South Lake Tahoe is throwing a party for about 50 of his friends but said, “you never know what could happen.”

Most of the people he knows are staying away from the casinos and Wilken said he has gotten in trouble when he has gone to Stateline in the past.

“This year we needed a cool and a safe place to party to get ready for 2000,” he said.

Holler said the New Year’s crowd has become younger.

“The last couple of years,” Holler said, “you get more college age and high school kids and some of them tend to get more rowdy, and it’s not going to be substantially different this year.”

Bob Swain of the South Lake Tahoe Parks and Recreation Department said teen-agers should celebrate the new year someplace safer than the state line but was unable to organize anything.

Not only are the police making use of the facility, he said, “There is going to be enough chaos in the streets that parents aren’t going to drive anywhere unless they absolutely have to.”

“This New Year’s,” he said, “I think the best policy for people is to avoid the casino area.”

A bartender from McP’s Irish Pub, which will be right in the middle of the festivities, Mike Hoblitt disagreed.

“The biggest problem is that everyone is talking about what a big problem it’s going to be,” he said. “People just get paranoid when you do that.”

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