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Visitors flock to basin

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

A steady stream of U.S. Highway 50 traffic and increased liquor sales at South Lake Tahoe signals the arrival of visitors to the basin for the New Year’s holiday.

Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini said Thursday he expects about the same number of people as last year to pack the casino corridor. The 2001 holiday brought out a record 60,000 people, up 10,000 from the previous year.

Loud firecrackers, bare breasts and fist fights were common last year, but injuries and arrests were reported as minor and minimal.

This year, Pierini said he plans to staff officers to help manage the crowd and keep the peace.

Some revelers already have started gearing up for the celebration.

Ski Run Liquor Manager Johnna Cristando pointed to her shelves where she’s sold out of some types of liquor like scotch and tequila.

“Looks like people are buying the good stuff,” she said.

Mike Francoeur of Dart Discount Liquors also has noticed an increase in liquor sales.

“The sales are starting to rev up for the holiday,” Francoeur said.

Still, he wonders what effect the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will have on sales and consumption.

“September 11th had an affect on everybody,” Francoeur said. “The real question is whether they’ll stay after New Year’s.”

In the meantime, the hotels and motels are anticipating a busy holiday week after seven weeks of being in a lull, the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association reported.

“Right now, we’re enjoying a fine week,” outgoing association President Charlie McDermid said. McDermid is selling out rooms over the holiday with a strong showing through next week.

“This is as good as it gets. We’ve got the best of all possible conditions — skiable slopes and driveable roads,” he said.

Cathy Colbert of Inn by the Lake said she anticipates a sellout holiday too, adding it’s “nice to see” the traffic.

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe also reports rooms are booked solid through the holiday.

Booking numbers from the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority central reservations line were unavailable Thursday.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority expect about 282,000 visitors on the Las Vegas Strip for New Year’s Eve. This is a decline of 1.7 percent compared with the year 2000, The Associated Press reported.

Despite the drop in predicted attendance, the authority also reported hotel rooms may be hard to find.


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