This will be our last newsletter for 2012. This year has gone by quickly and has brought us indications of better things to come. Kelli and I wish you a happy holiday season; we have high hopes for a prosperous 2013. Las Vegas has a lot to offer. Below are a few things you might enjoy over the holidays.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Glittering Lights
The Glittering Lights show drapes the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in more than 2 million LED lights, with displays featuring tributes to Las Vegas icons such as Elvis and Liberace. Visitors who drive their way through the 2.5-mile course will be able to sip hot chocolate and munch on kettle corn sold on-site by local Boy Scout troops.
The Glittering Lights display is located at 7000 Las Vegas Blvd. North and will be open until Jan. 6. Tickets are $15 per car Monday through Thursday and $20 per car Friday through Sunday. The display is lit every night at 5:30 p.m., closing at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and at 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest
The Magical Forest is home to hundreds of decorated trees, millions of lights and oversized gingerbread houses. Visitors can stop by Santa’s workshop for a photo or take a ride on the Forest Express train.
The Magical Forest, located at the nonprofit’s Oakey Boulevard site near Torrey Pines Drive, is open through Jan. 6. General admission tickets are $9 for children under age 13 and $11 for adults; passes for the rides cost a few dollars extra. The display is open starting at 5:30 p.m. nightly, closing at 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Ethel M Chocolate Factory Cactus Garden Light Display
This FREE longtime local favorite proves that even here in the desert the spirit of Christmas abounds. Hundreds of cacti and other desert plants are adorned with nearly half a million LED lights at the Ethel M Cactus Garden. Open (and free) to the public from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly until Jan. 1, the garden is located at 2 Cactus Garden Drive in Henderson (89014).
The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Another longtime FREE Best-of-Vegas attraction, the Bellagio Botanical Gardens, has had a holiday makeover. A 42-foot Shasta tree dominates the display, but the thousands of lights adorning plants of all kinds, coupled with the holiday rocking horse and penguin statues, bring a gaggle of holiday cheer to this amazing display of nature. Learn about the plants from Mr. and Mrs. Green Thumbs and make this holiday outing a place to learn and be jolly. For more information, go online.
Scuba Santa at the Silverton Aquarium
Already a top pick for FREE Things to Do in Las Vegas, the Aquarium at Silverton's 117,000- gallon saltwater tank gets festive this holiday season. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday until Christmas, the aquarium offers a visit from Santa unlike any you've ever seen. Even sharks and fish need to tell Santa their Christmas wishes, and this jolly old submerged fellow is a sight to be seen. This is a great event for kids. For more information, go online.
Winter In Venice
The Venetian and the Palazzo join forces through Jan. 8 for the Winter in Venice spectacular. Wow that special someone this Christmas with a gondola ride through the lighted, icicle-laden environs of the Venetian. Featuring holiday concerts and events (some free, some not), a spectacular nightly light show and an ice skating rink (unfortunately not free). Get all the details here.
Crystals at City Center's Holiday Winter Wonderland
To say FREE and Crystals in one sentence will make any Las Vegas resident chuckle. It may come as a surprise then to see Crystals has one of the best FREE holiday displays anywhere in Las Vegas. Hundreds of seasonal plants decorate the multi levels of this amazing shopping mall, including the rare and never-before-seen in the U.S. white LED Christmas trees, draped in crystal as well as numerous massive traditional trees sent in from Oregon. Take the kids or the wife or the in-laws to this soon-to-be perennial holiday favorite. Just try and keep your money in your wallet. For more information, go online.
Events at The Springs Preserve - 333 S. Valley View Blvd. at U.S. 95
- Holiday Spectacular at the Springs Preserve – Bask in the glow of thousands of colorful, eco-friendly LED lights at this family-friendly celebration that features tasty treats, holiday arts and crafts, reindeer (pony) rides, and, of course, photos with Santa through Dec. 23, from 5 to 9 p.m. All activities are included with full admission, which is $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 5-12 and free for children 4 and younger. Members receive a 50-percent admission discount. A group rate of $5 per ticket is available when purchasing 10 or more tickets.
- Gardens Workshop: Gifts from the Gardens
Participants will learn simple, fun ideas on using their garden’s bounty to create wonderful gifts. Fragrant wreaths and swags may be created and taken home as well. The workshop will be held Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 22-23, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday workshops will be repeated on Sunday. Admission is $10 for members, $15 for non-members and reservations are required.
To obtain more information about the preserve or the two events listed above, please call 822-7700 or visit the Springs Preserve Web page.
RTC TRANSIT WILL OPERATE ON ALTERNATE SCHEDULES DEC. 24-25
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) will operate its transit system on a Saturday schedule this Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24, and will operate on a Sunday schedule on Christmas Day, Tuesday, Dec. 25. The Saturday and Sunday schedules will be implemented due to traditionally lower ridership and less traffic on these days.
Schedules for all RTC transit routes are available at www.rtcsnv.com/ or in the RTC’s Transit Guide. Riders with questions also can call the RTC’s Customer Service line at 702.228.RIDE (7433).
Residents can save money during the holiday season by riding RTC transit. For as little as $2, valley residents can leave their vehicles at home or park them at any park-and-ride location and take transit to shopping malls or to visit family and friends.
The RTC operates three park-and-ride facilities and collaborates with private businesses for additional park-and-ride locations throughout Southern Nevada. Parking is free and spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis. RTC park-and-ride locations include:
- Centennial Hills Transit Center and Park & Ride – located at 7313 Grand Montecito Parkway in the northwest part of the Las Vegas Valley near the U.S. 95 and Durango Drive interchange.
- South Strip Transfer Terminal (SSTT) – located at 6675 S. Gilespie St., just south of the airport at the corner of Sunset and Gilespie. The SSTT is serviced by multiple RTC transit routes.
- Westcliff Transit Center and Park & Ride – located at 25 S. Durango Dr., next to Summerlin Parkway.
RTC OFFERING FREE RIDES TO DOWNTOWN OR THE STRIP NEW YEARS EVE
Locals heading to downtown or the Strip to ring in the New Year can do so for free. The RTC is offering free transit rides from 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, through 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1, including direct transit service from the Centennial Hills and Summerlin areas to downtown Las Vegas.
The RTC is encouraging everyone to celebrate responsibly and to take advantage of the free transit service as they ring in 2013. Free rides apply to all RTC transit routes throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
Getting to Downtown Las Vegas
- From Centennial Hills Transit Center Park & Ride - This year, the RTC is offering park-and-ride transit service for New Year’s Eve to downtown Las Vegas from the Centennial Hills Transit Center Park & Ride lot located on Grand Montecito Parkway, near Durango Drive and Elkhorn Road.
- From Westcliff Transit Center Park & Ride - Additionally, the RTC is offering park-and-ride transit service for New Year’s Eve to downtown Las Vegas from the Westcliff Transit Center Park & Ride, located at 25 S. Durango Drive, just south of Summerlin Parkway.
Express transit service from both park-and-ride locations will operate at a higher frequency, approximately every 20 minutes, between 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve until 4 a.m. on New Year’s Day. The free service will take riders downtown to Neonopolis on Las Vegas Boulevard, where passengers may transfer to the Deuce on the Strip service to travel south to the Strip (as close as transit service can reach, given road closures on the Strip on New Year’s Eve).
For information on RTC Transit routes and park-and-ride locations, visit www.rtcsnv.com/ or call 702.228.RIDE (7433).
HEALTH DISTRICT OFFERS TIPS FOR HEALTHIER HOLIDAYS
You don’t have to ruin a year’s worth of healthy habits during the holidays. By adopting a few strategies, the holidays don’t have to pack on pounds and stress. From party dining tips to healthful gift suggestions, the Southern Nevada Health District’s Office of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s “Get Healthy Clark County” website has plenty of tips and tools to make the holidays enjoyable. Visit www.gethealthyclarkcounty.org/ or call (702) 759-1270.
It’s easy to gain weight during the holidays with parties and family gatherings. The health district offers a few suggestions to keep the pounds off. For example, use a smaller plate at the buffet table, limit your eggnog intake (340 calories in one cup), and trim the desserts by scraping off cake icing or eat the pie filling rather than the crust. Maintain a fitness routine as much as possible during the season.
Holiday gifts can encourage healthy activities in 2013. A little exercise can go a long way toward achieving better health and items such as a pedometer, an active video game, or a bike can be gifts that keep on giving. Additional gift recommendations include a cookbook for healthy recipes or even a health-related magazine subscription.
GetHealthyClarkCounty.org has tools and information that help increase physical activity, tips and resources to help people to quit smoking, find local walking and hiking trails, manage diabetes, and learn about risks and prevention for other chronic illnesses.
CITY RECYCLING PROGRAM COMES TO PARKS
The city of Las Vegas’ commitment to sustainability has expanded to area parks with a new single-stream recycling bin program. The new bins are painted blue and are already at several city parks, including Centennial Hills and Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs.
The bins accept plastic and glass bottles, paper, cans, plastics, newspaper and cardboard; there is no need to sort the recyclables. Trash bins are located next to the recycling bins for food and other waste items.
It is estimated that the recycling bins will save the city more than $130,000 a year in costs because there will be fewer trash pickups needed at parks. About 110 of the new recycling bins have been deployed, with more to come.
This recycling program furthers the city’s sustainability goals and helps save taxpayer money. The city’s overall recycling program saves more than $310,000 annually. The city’s recycling rate is now about 50 percent, with the inclusion of the new park recycling bins.
TAX PREPARATION VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FROM JANUARY TO APRIL 2013
Once again, we are sponsoring a site at the Centennial Hills Community Center/YMCA where low-income families can have their taxes prepared for free. During the 2012 tax season, volunteers helped more than 6,000 southern Nevada families claim over $7.2 million in tax refunds. We need volunteers to assist again this year; no experience is necessary and the IRS provides free tax law and e-file training.
You would need to be available in January for two to three days of training. When we start the tax preparation, we are asking for four to five hours per week to do the actual tax preparation. We anticipate starting this free service near the end of January and ending mid-April.
Please contact Tuesday James at 229-5463 to volunteer or get more information.
UPCOMING SENIOR EVENTS (ages 50+)
Centennial Hills Active Adult Center
6601 N. Buffalo Drive, 229-1702.
The center will be CLOSED Tuesday, Dec. 25.
Scrapbooking and Card Making
Wednesday, Dec. 19, 10 a.m.
FREE. Join Gloria for crafting fun!
Thursday, Dec. 20, 11 a.m., $5 cost.
We’ll play several games of Bingo and enjoy Soda Cracker Toffee as a treat.
This program requires pre-registration. Call 229-1702 to register.