Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas Turns 25, Celebration Delayed by COVID-19

Posted on: December 15, 2020, 03:06h. 

Last updated on: December 15, 2020, 03:28h.

The Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas turns 25 this week. But don’t expect an official celebration until next year.

Fremont Street Experinece
A light show displays multiple colors on the canopy at the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas. The entertainment district opened in 1995. (Image: KTNV-TV)

The pedestrian mall opened in mid-December 1995 with an electronic canopy covering a portion of Fremont Street. Known as Glitter Gulch, the street is lined on both sides with casinos, including some of the oldest in Southern Nevada.

This year, the coronavirus pandemic eliminated any chance of a silver anniversary celebration in the five-block Fremont Street entertainment district. A message on the Fremont Street Experience Twitter page explained that things are on hold until next year.

Since we can’t celebrate in style this year, we will be taking a Mulligan and rock 2021 in epic fashion,” according to a Fremont Street Experience tweet.

Some Las Vegas residents, especially those who recall cruising Fremont in earlier years, reminisce about the street before it was blocked off from traffic. Over the years, however, the entertainment district has become a tourist destination.

The 90-foot-tall canopy covering the street features multi-colored light shows. It also is used for special occasions and for memorials and tributes. In late November, the canopy displayed a tribute to retired Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. The 46-year-old Hsieh recently died after a house fire in Connecticut. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Hsieh, who had bought property this year in Park City, Utah, was honored in downtown Las Vegas for spending millions of dollars to restore neglected areas near the Fremont Street Experience.

Outlaws and Gangsters

Southern Nevada’s largest casinos are on the Las Vegas Strip south of downtown, outside city limits. These include Wynn Las Vegas, the Venetian, and the MGM Grand.

But Fremont Street is home to some of the most historic properties in the area. It also is remembered for its colorful casino owners over the years, including former Texas outlaw Benny Binion and New York gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel.

The oldest hotel in Las Vegas, the Golden Gate, is on the southwest corner of Fremont Street. It opened in the early 1900s. Across Fremont Street is the newest resort to open in Las Vegas, Circa Resort. Both are owned by Derek Stevens, who also owns D Las Vegas on Fremont Street.

Fireworks Show

For decades, a passenger train station was on Main Street at the western end of Fremont Street. In 1971, the Plaza Hotel and Casino was opened where the train station once stood. At one time, the Plaza was called the Union Plaza.

The Plaza still plans to conduct a New Year’s Eve fireworks show this year. This comes as two year-end celebrations in Southern Nevada have been canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

The annual fireworks show on the Las Vegas Strip, which drew an estimated 300,000 people a year ago, is being replaced this year by a virtual event.

The Fremont Street Experience New Year’s Eve celebration, expected to attract 10,000 people to the downtown area, also has been called off.