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Leaders Hopeful for Coming Year | News

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Leaders Hopeful for Coming Year
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LAS VEGAS -- The weather may have been cold, but crowds turned out for the lighting of the official Las Vegas Christmas tree on Fremont Street.

This holiday season, Downtown Las Vegas has seen good news with a casino expansion opening and some setbacks with a hotel closing. Despite the economy, Mayor Oscar Goodman is sticking to spreading holiday cheer. "I'm the happiest mayor in the universe," he said.

With the flip of a switch, Las Vegas' official Christmas tree was lit, making downtown even brighter. "It's the holiday season. The public is just yearning to have a good time, to feel good about one another, not to have complaints, not to have the economy knock our heads in," said the mayor.

Despite the recession, the Golden Nugget just opened the first downtown tower in 20 years -- a multi-million dollar investment. The mayor also says the performing arts center is coming out of the ground in this economy.

This month, the city council moved forward with plans for a new city hall and last month, they approved an agreement with a company to look at the possibility of building a new arena, hotel-casino, and entertainment district downtown.

But the Lady Luck still stands empty and Binion's hotel is shutting down in less than week, but Goodman, in the season of gratitude, stays joyful. "We're dealing with the Lady Luck. They're going to build a beautiful new hotel. We got our mob museum right across the street from it. As far as Binion's is concerned, they're going to work that out. I feel very confident about that. As long as these places don't go dark, we're fine," he said.

For many visitors, Fremont Street is a must on their list, just like the Strip. "Much more intimate. Easier to get in between the casinos. We like both," said tourist Mary Evans.

"Spending has been down. Visitation's been down. But we're working very hard to counter that in 2010," said Fremont Street Experience President Jeff Victor.

The Fremont Street Experience is hoping for a happy and prosperous future. It starts with 30,000 people ringing in the New Year downtown. "We got a variety of promotions planned to try and draw the customers. Bring them in from out of town and see that they have a good time and spend," said Victor.

For now, a festive celebration goes on with best wishes for 2010.

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