Reno Cancels Fireworks

1/1/09 - STUPID MOVE CANCELLING FIREWORKS - As I watched the news last night, looking at all the revelers downtown at the stroke of midnight looking up at the sky waiting for the fireworks to happen, I couldn't help but think what a silly move it was to cancel them. It was an anticlimactic, almost lame scene downtown. Now, those thousands of people who came this year, probably won't come up next year. Why? Because they were duped. Thousands of people booked hotel rooms far in advance in anticipation of the show, yet it was only announced days before the event that they wouldn't be happening. Nice punch in the gut to those who spent hundreds of dollars planning last night, including booking hotel rooms, traveling up to Reno, etc. I don't buy the argument that a Harrah's representative gave on News 4 last night that 'It was either we lay off people, or we throw fireworks'. The fireworks cost roughly $30,000, split among the casinos that's less than $15,000 each, and that doesn't even pay for one year's earnings of ONE minimum wage job, so cut the crap. You were greedy, you didn't want revelers leaving your parties to go outside and celebrate, plain and simple. Now I read in the papers this morning that some are surprised that so few people celebrated downtown last night. Well guess what, you cancelled the main reason people came downtown! Don't be surprised if maybe half the people that celebrated New Years in Reno this year don't come back next year. I've received over 20 emails from pissed off tourists and residents. Am I being overly critical? Insensitive to the economic situation? Maybe. But you don't stimulate a city's economy by canceling inexpensive ($30,000 is inexpensive by event standards) critical events that draw thousands. What are your thoughts?


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Posted by: BJR - 1/1/2009 10:29:55 AM
Agree it was very shortsighted. So why did they need the extra 87 cops for $27,000 overtime downtown. Were there extra firefighters also on the payroll?

Posted by: Native - 1/1/2009 10:37:22 AM
$30,000 is $30,000. The question to me is, will the canceling of the fireworks this year hamper next year's celebrations? Not if the economy is better then, and people are assured they're on early enough in the booking season. It's about planning in advance for these events citywide - and not at the last minute. I feel your frustration - but from a PR perspective, I think they did the right thing in cancelling them. They just canceled them too late to not make it look like a cheap bait-and-switch pitch to the unsuspecting tourists. I DON'T think they did this purposefully to keep the tourists indoors instead of allowing them to spill into the streets. They're not THAT coordinated. And frankly, Reno needs a boost. We're closing casino's, and struggling like the rest of the nation - maybe even a bit more than some. Let's concentrate on building a vibrant downtown economy this year - and not worry about blowing stuff up in celebration. Happy 2009!

Posted by: matto - 1/1/2009 11:25:43 AM
Hey Mike, email the mayor and tell him your thoughts. The move the city and the casinos made were complete BS, they are going to hurt next year for shure if they don't bring the show back

Posted by: Devin Sommerton - 1/1/2009 11:37:13 AM
Well they ruined my plans too, because my friends and I could not afford any fancy casino parties. I think this will hurt Reno's New Years reputation some. It's not like they were called off because of bad weather. They waited too long to announce it. 3 days before the event? come on. They shouold have announced it a month ago. I believe though that the city people would have done their own fireworks show had they known the damage it caused by not having it.

Posted by: Wiley_n_Reno - 1/1/2009 11:44:10 AM
I agree and think canceling the fireworks sends a message that says "Reno is closed"! Artown is an organization already in place that could organize some events or music acts near downtown that would be interesting to see. The Artown people could get some stages with acts or attractions organized. Doesn't have to be big, lets start small. The Pioneer Center, Wingfield park, Lear and Bruke theaters, Events Center, the new Ballroom, are all possible venues. Boston does it, and it's cold(er) there too!

Posted by: Ginoinsf - 1/1/2009 12:40:51 PM
As an "out of towner" from San Francisco, the question has to be asked. If the Casinos cant afford the fireworks for New Years Eve, how do they expect to draw people from California to come and gamble at their casinos. There has to be a marketing hook for us to come.. This was a terrible idea. Dont tell me that Harrarhs Corporation couldnt afford this. Thats garbage. Reno had better get it together soon, because nobody will patronize these casinos in the future when there are so many casinos in Califonia (indian) that do have fireworks for New Years Eve. Just a thought. Reno needs to reinvent itself to stay alive. Many towns in the USA are doing it and Reno is no exception. Seems like the "Old boys" network is in control at City Hall. Just a thought. Peace.

Posted by: Kaseygirl - 1/1/2009 12:45:45 PM
I can understand the disappointment but I don't agree that it will ruin downtown's reputation for a great place to go for New Years. I have spent many New Years downtown and have really enjoyed it, but to be honest the fireworks were a small part of that. People come to Reno for New Years for the whole experience. Drinking, Dancing, Being with friends, Gambling, Skiing and Snowboarding.. etc.... They don't just come for our little fireworks show. In this stressed economy I can understand why they cancelled them and think that most people can too. With much more important issues facing everyone fireworks are really just a drop in the bucket!

Posted by: downtownjunki - 1/1/2009 5:57:11 PM
Canceling was fine, doing it 3 days before borders on criminal. I suggest the city council rent Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase to see how people feel when what they expect to happen doesn't. There will, unfortunately, be repercussions and that is the last thing we need.

Posted by: Justin - 1/1/2009 8:42:04 PM
I agree this was a stupid move, but it's also puzzling to me why this was reported in the media 3 days before New Years. This was not a recent decision. In fact, Harrah's began sending out notices as early as September that the fireworks would be cancelled this year and they also took considerable efforts to make tourists aware of this.

Posted by: Fireman - 1/1/2009 11:37:36 PM
Posted by: BJR - 1/1/2009 10:29:55 AM Agree it was very shortsighted. So why did they need the extra 87 cops for $27,000 overtime downtown. Were there extra firefighters also on the payroll? Are you Shortsighted? Why the need for extra officer's on a night when the downtown population swells by thousands with most of them drinking? Why the need for extra officers when they had calls stacked and the Downtown Firehouse--er Tent-- ran over 40 calls in 24 hours. Can you really be transfering the blame for not catering to our tourists from our city leaders to our public servants? And to answer your question, No there was no extra firefighters on duty. In fact, your City Manager, your Mayor and your Fire Chief have cut our staffing to the lowest levels in over a decade. Now we have only two ladder trucks mostly everyday. One covers from moana to the Carson City border and the other covers from a tent on 4th street to the California border in Cold Springs. They (your City Council) dropped the ball, simple as that.

Posted by: James Robinson - 1/1/2009 11:59:35 PM
Actually, the downtown Reno fireworks display for new years has a total cost of nearly $275,000. The City's contribution is ONLY $30,000! I think the City did the right move in not sponsoring the fireworks considering they are considering laying off 100 to 500 of their employees. Let's get our facts straight.

Posted by: DowntownMakeoverDude - 1/2/2009 8:08:42 AM
Hi James, if that's the case, then RGJ, Channel 4, Channel 2 did a horrible job reporting, because that number was never quoted by the City, or by any of the representatives of the casinos. They all said it cost in the $20,000-$30,000 range. Perhaps the public would have been much more sympathetic had we known the true cost.

Posted by: Steve - 1/2/2009 10:35:23 AM
The cost would have been around $100,000. I'll bet anything the casinos lost a whole lot more than that because of the cancelation. Why would anyone come to Reno.....casinos are all over California. I've been going downtown for over 20 years. I have never seen a more pitiful New Years. At the Arch there wasn't a clock so everyone was looking at their cell phone. It was a sad day for Reno. I almost felt like going over and turning off the Reno Arch.

Posted by: MikeO - 1/2/2009 10:37:02 AM
If the fireworks had actually happened, the local businesses downtown would have received more than enough profits by those people brought in for the fireworks. Instead those people stayed home. At absolutely worst case the casinos would have broke even on the night and not left visitors with a bad taste in their mouth for next year. Another smart move by Reno's brightest...

Posted by: Justin - 1/2/2009 3:11:00 PM
Actually, most of the casinos are reporting they were just as busy this New Years as they were last year. The people simply went inside the casinos instead of gathering on the street.

Posted by: Eric Andersen - 1/2/2009 3:56:29 PM
I read your website religiously and I normally agree with your editorials but if the cancellation of a few fireworks saves even one person their job, than so be it. Cutting even the smallest expenses for many of the casinos in this city will be the difference between retaining employees and letting them go in the short term, and in the long term, that might not even be enough. Lets face it, the best thing to happen to Reno in years is the fact that owners are now forced with the realization that they either invest in their property or it will go under. I do feel badly that many casino employees are ill-equiped to find work in other industries but I guess that's life.

Posted by: renonwsubresident - 1/2/2009 6:53:16 PM
The Reno City councel needs to implement ideas that will draw customers to the area from everywhere in the country and spend the citys money in a calculated manner. Reno is best suited to become a meca for upscale bars, night clubs and restuarants for young and old to have the desire to spend money in the city. Reno needs to clean up its downtown!, improve the facade or tear down older ugly buildings and approve the building of newer upscale buildings and businesses. Reno needs to come a mini silicon valley to attract high paying jobs to the area. This is a just a few ideas that the city needs to make a priority to attract more people to Reno.

Posted by: renonwresident - 1/2/2009 8:02:58 PM
Reno city council and planning commission needs to spend city money in a calculated and responsible manner directed towards development in areas that will bring money and people to the city. Reno needs to immediately work towards capitalizing on what will bring out the best in the city, bring revenue and people to the area. First and foremost, Reno needs to become a Mecca for upscale bars, nightclubs and restaurants. Reno needs to find developers to build upscale buildings and businesses in the downtown area within the next 2-4 years. It's a good idea to be somewhat similar to Las Vegas in the development of new casinos however with more focus on making our area a more family friendly adventure. Downtown buildings that are old or run down need a new facade or need to be torn down within the next 2-4 years. Reno needs ground lights on all downtown cross walks immediately. Reno needs to be become a mini silicon valley to attract more high paying jobs to the area. These are just a few ideas that will help re-invigorate the city of Reno.

Posted by: Ginoinsf - 1/3/2009 1:01:48 AM
If casinos cant flip the $100,ooo tab for the firworks this year than they are WAY worse off than anyone thought. Skimping on 100k? Dont forget folks they make tens of millions every month. Sounds like the casino industry is in for a HARD fall.

Posted by: Ace - 1/3/2009 11:49:19 AM
Short-term speaking, the fireworks cancellation saved some funds; but on a longer-term basis, it was a step in the wrong direction. If I can visit a newly-constructed Indian casino, with all the lights and bells plus live music, that downtown Reno offers, and with a much shorter drive, it is the "something extra" which would motivate me to drive to Reno. Taking away that motivator makes the decision easier. Habits become formed, and in future years, going to Reno becomes a harder decision. Take it from a life-long promoter-- hard times are not when you cut marketing cost, it is the opposite, it is then when you need to spend on business development and try harder. I read that the downtown Vegas Fremont Street operators did not cancel their show, and they also have laid-off employees. The downtown casino merchants in Reno are displaying the proverbial penny-wise, pound foolish attitude. New and expanded activities and special interest events, designed for special interest groups, are the route they should be following, and not down-sizing and cutting activities.

Posted by: cbielser - 1/3/2009 3:05:35 PM
Are you crazy. No one comes to Reno for the fireworks no matter what they say. They come to gamble. And the media puffs the numbers downtown incredibly. We're lucky to have 5,000 people. What part of the idea that the city is in very serious financial trouble don't you get? Basically, this city has defaulted on its downtown bonds and is seeking in effect a credit card from the Bank of America at credit cardinterest rates to service the bonds. Why no mention of the fact Andy Green, city finance director, quit as of yesterday?

Posted by: Jim - 1/3/2009 8:36:38 PM
If 30,000 to 250,000 is too much to spend on fireworks for New Years, how about dropping a lighted ball ala New York; not as expensive, gives people something to watch, and we can use it over and over, just a thought.

Posted by: DowntownRenoFan - 1/3/2009 10:36:20 PM
When I look at all of the monuments built downtown at astronomic taxpayer expense, I find it rather comical that cost was the reason cited for not doing fireworks. It's akin to a soldier with a major head wound seeking medical care for a paper cut.

Posted by: urbanblog - 1/4/2009 10:16:58 AM What do you know. Green has a new job in Pasadena.

Posted by: Darell - 1/6/2009 11:33:06 AM
HIT AND RUN!!! Let there be no mistake about it. This was a sleazy move on the part of the casinos. I will concede that I can at least understand the city’s reasoning behind their part of the abandonment of the fireworks display. I may not agree with it… But city officials often have to make difficult and unpopular decisions in the interest of fiscal responsibility. I could even understand casinos deciding not to do the event. BUT… let’s call this what it is… an old fashioned BAIT-N-SWITCH! It takes months of planning to launch a fireworks display. MONTHS! The casinos knew for months that this was not going to happen. They deliberately waited to announce the cancelation until tourists could not change their plans, or get a room deposit back, and until no other venue in town could plan a fireworks event of their own. Many tourists had no idea that the event was even cancelled, and that is exactly how the casinos wanted it! They lured their crowd in with the unspoken promise of an event, and then pull it at the last second. It’s the old ‘slide of hand’ that Reno has become famous for! I personally felt as though the casinos deliberately tried to pull the wool on over my eyes, and I made it a point not to support that kind of deception. I dropped about 400 bucks that night which would have otherwise found its way down town. I instead made it a point to make sure that not one dime of it fell into the resorts hands. I can only imagine how the tourists feel! This is just another example of the poor, if not greedy management decisions which have plagued Reno for decades. People wonder why this town is not taken seriously… we here you have it! Tourists will remember this kind of thing. They will think twice next time they pick up the phone to book a room on Reno. Who could blame them?


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