Jubilant crowds ring in 2010; few problems reported
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Thousands of revelers celebrated the start of a new decade by shouting, dancing and drinking the night away between South Shore casinos on Thursday night.
Although law enforcement had made several arrests by the time 2010 arrived, the mood of the masses stayed almost entirely joyous throughout the annual street party.
“The crowd was very well behaved for the most part,” said South Lake Tahoe Police Lt. David Stevenson.
Despite the lack of an official countdown to the new year, the drone of thousands grew to a roar as people began to realize 2010 had arrived. Couples kissed, people wished perfect strangers a happy new year and numerous bottle rockets shot up from either side of the crowd shortly after midnight.
Although estimating crowd sizes at the annual celebration is far from an exact science, Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini said the party was similar in size to last year, when approximately 45,000 people rung in the new year between South Shore casinos. That number is down significantly from the gathering’s peak attendance four years ago, when estimates reached as high as 80,000 people, Pierini said.
Thursday’s crowd was largely typical one, said Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Capt. David Aymami.
“It was average,” Aymami said. “It was a late crowd, they didn’t get out that early. It really started to pick up about 11:15, 11:30 and then they dispersed pretty quickly.”
Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies had made one arrest and issued three citations as of 1 a.m. on Friday morning. One man was taken into custody after climbing the traffic signal and exposing himself, Aymami said.
South Lake Tahoe police had made about a dozen arrests on the California side of the stateline by approximately 12:45 a.m., mostly for fighting or alcohol-related offenses, Stevenson said.
Law enforcement officers usually make most of their arrests between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. New Year’s Day, Aymami said. Seven six-member strike teams will remain in the stateline area until the crowds disperse completely, Aymami said.
Sheriff’s deputies closed Highway 50 in the casino corridor at about 10:20 p.m. when the crowds began to spill over onto the street from the sidewalks. The highway was reopened by 1 a.m., Aymami said.