Warm Stateline New Year’s Eve could see increase in revelers

Mild temperatures and a three-day weekend could lead to a larger than average crowd at Stateline on Sunday, Dec. 31.

Traditionally, thousands of people ring in the New Year in the Tahoe casino core.

But recent years have seen a reduced crowd, thanks in part to the annual Snow Globe celebration at South Lake Tahoe, which lasts until 1:30 a.m. Jan. 1.

The music festival kicks off 2 p.m. today at Lake Tahoe Community College’s play field and runs for three days.

 The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is preparing for a busy New Year’s Eve celebration at Lake Tahoe on Sunday.

Undersheriff Paul Howell said the casinos are more security conscious in light of the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas.

“We have discussed it with them and there certainly is a heightened sense of awareness toward a potential threat from outside their particular venue,” he said. “Our ops plan does include elevated observation points with snipers, as we have always done.”

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The large number of celebrants in Stateline on New Year’s Eve will attract a proportionately large number of law enforcement officers to keep the peace.

Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies will be present in the Stateline casino core throughout the evening, supplemented by officers and representatives of numerous other law enforcement agencies, including Nevada Highway Patrol, Nevada Department of Corrections, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, and the FBI. Supporting agencies include the Douglas County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, Douglas County Communications Center, Tahoe-Douglas Fire Department, Cal-Trans and Nevada Department of Transportation

Highway 50 through the casino core may end up closing with vehicle traffic diverted around it for public safety, according to the sheriff’s office. Traffic would be detoured onto upper and lower Lake Parkway Drive.

Sheriff Ron Pierini implemented a nonconfrontational approach to dealing with revelers, which has been successful in reducing the number of incidents.

“The goal of the Sheriff’s Office is protecting life and property while at the same time allowing celebrants to enthusiastically ring in the New Year,” according to authorities. “There are, however, behaviors that will not be tolerated by law enforcement.”

Anyone placing revelers or law enforcement officers in danger could find themselves in custody. Deputies won’t tolerate acts of rowdy behavior, fighting, throwing projectiles, vandalism, theft, narcotic violations, severe public drunkenness, possession of or discharge of fireworks, minors consuming or possessing alcohol, or any other act that disrupts the goal of achieving a peaceful and safe environment for all in attendance.

Douglas County code prohibits glass or metal containers, regardless of contents in the casino core area on New Year’s Eve. Bottles and cans, including their contents, will be confiscated for destruction by law enforcement. Alcohol or other liquids shall be in a plastic cup, paper cup or other similar vessel. Area casinos are aware of this requirement, and will serve alcoholic beverages in plastic cups throughout the evening.

The Sheriff’s Office asks parents to keep track of their children during the New Year’s Eve celebration, saying the event is not intended for juveniles.

Each year during the event, a large percentage of contacts and arrests are made of persons under the age of 21. Anyone under the age of 18 is subject to curfew, which is midnight Sunday.

The legal drinking age in Nevada is 21, which means anyone younger could be cited. While recreational marijuana is legal for those 21 years and older in Nevada, its public consumption is not.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is also illegal.

Not all of Douglas County’s law enforcement resources will be devoted to Stateline.

The sheriff’s office and the Nevada Highway Patrol will be fully staffed and on the lookout for impaired drivers.

Anyone who consumes alcohol while celebrating New Year’s Eve is urged to have a sober driver or call a taxi.

Last year, Highway 50 was closed for about a half-hour starting at 11:45 p.m. Between Stateline and Carson Valley there were 26 arrests, with five for driving under the influence, including one where someone was injured.

According to the National Weather Service, the temperature at midnight in Stateline is forecast to be 36 degrees.

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