Lake Tahoe 1999: The place to party
By Christina Proctor
Tribune Staff Writer
Revelers filled private parties inside the casinos and took the party into the street to ring in 1999.
Despite predictions that 1999 would be a more destructive year than most during the New Year’s Eve festivities at South Shore, law enforcement labeled the party as status quo by 10:30 p.m.
“We seem to be right on the same agenda as usual,” said Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini. “At 11:30 p.m. it will start to get busier as everybody comes out of the casinos onto the street. We probably have about 5,000 people out there now, but at 11:30 p.m. it will swell to around 25,000.”
The satellite booking posts in the casinos recorded 19 arrests for the evening by 10 p.m. The majority, men in their early 20s, were taken in for being drunk in public. None of the individuals would be allowed to bail out until after midnight. Some businesses weren’t taking any chances. Heavenly Sports boarded their storefront windows even though, according to one South Lake Tahoe officer, the windows had never been broken in the past.
Buffy Wicks, a senior at University of California, Chico, and five of her friends came up to South Shore for “a little venture.”
“This is the first time I’ve been up here when I was 21,” Wicks announced. “I gambled for the first time and won $1.50 with one quarter.”
Wicks admitted that she then quickly lost $3. The college students said they had no room for the night, but planned to stay up as long as possible and then sleep in their minivan. Wicks said she’ll probably be out on the street for the stroke of midnight.
“It depends. If I’m drunk enough to be warm I’ll be out here,” she said.
Wicks and her friends were just a few of many college students who made the drive to Tahoe to party.
The street seemed to belong to a younger crowd.
The casinos and hotels were filled with the dinner-and-dancing generation.
Ted and Cindy Caddy, of Walnut Creek, Calif., spent the evening dancing and celebrating at Embassy Suites Resort. Ted said they come to South Shore about six times a year.
“There’s the outdoors, the lake, and the partying,” Ted explained.
To ensure a safe holiday, California and Nevada law enforcement put out about 200 officers between the Crescent V Shopping Center and Lake Parkway. Even El Dorado County Sheriff Hal Barker was out on the street.
“We started a controlled process early to get people used to doing what we want,” Barker said as he directed people off the street. Officers closed down U.S. Highway 50 between Park Avenue on the California side and Lake Parkway in Nevada around 8:30 p.m. Six mounted officers from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department and South Lake Tahoe Police Department kept people on the sidewalks to allow official vehicles access out of the casino core area. Officers dressed in riot gear patrolled the street in groups of five and six, searching backpacks and forcing people to pour out their drinks. Officers said the crowd, for the most part, just seemed to be having a good time.
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