South Lake Tahoe, Douglas law enforcement prepares for New Year’s crowds |

South Lake Tahoe, Douglas law enforcement prepares for New Year’s crowds

Sebastian Foltz
Three men climb a light signal at Stateline on the South Shore during a past New Year’s celebration. The three were taken into police custody a few minutes after the photo was taken. Law enforcement officials expect to once again to close Highway 50 through Stateline as a safety measure during New Year’s Eve.
Tribune File Photo |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — With a high volume of visitors expected for the New Year’s holiday, Douglas County, El Dorado County and South Lake Tahoe police and sheriff’s department officials are urging potential party-goers to exercise caution through the weekend.

“We expect a lot of foot traffic in the area,” South Lake Tahoe police chief Brian Uhler said. “We ask that the motoring public be extraordinarily careful.”

South Lake Tahoe’s SnowGlobe Music Festival is expected to attract between 15,000 and 16,000 visitors alone. And with skier numbers rebounding due to a strong winter, the South Shore could see more New Year’s visitors than in recent years.

“Obviously the crowd size is going to be the unknown,” Sergeant Pat Brooks of the Douglas County Sheriff’s office said. “Hopefully everybody has a good time and nobody gets drunk and stupid. Our goal isn’t to take people to jail. Our goal is for people to stay safe.”

County, city and state law enforcement agencies will be working in conjunction with one another to handle the added traffic.

The Highway 50 casino corridor at Stateline is expected to close on New Year’s Eve with traffic to be diverted onto Lake Parkway.

“We start closing it off when people are starting to fill the sidewalks,” Brooks said. “It all depends on the crowd and what they’re doing.”

According to Uhler, the Hard Rock Casino is planning on having outdoor music New Year’s Eve which could lead to early road closures.

Ulher said, however, that he believes that SnowGlobe, which takes place near Lake Tahoe Community College, has helped alleviate crowds and incidents around the casino corridor.

“That has made Stateline New Year’s a little less problematic for us.”

With the added street traffic, Brooks reminded New Year’s goers that metal and glass containers are banned outdoors in the casino corridor.

In addition to higher traffic volumes, Brooks cautioned people to also consider the weather and dress accordingly.

“The big thing for us is going to be cold temperatures,” he said.

With alcohol consumption and party-goers potentially outdoors for long periods of time, exposure it a concern. In 2013, 19-year-old SnowGlobe attendee Alyssa Byrne was found dead off of Pioneer Trail following the festival. “Probable hypothermia due to prolonged environmental exposure” was cited among causes of death. She was believed to be walking back to her hotel from the venue near Lake Tahoe Community College.

SnowGlobe will be offering shuttle service to festival attendees and the Tahoe Transportation District will be offering free public transportation around town through the weekend.

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