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Nights the Lights Went Out On the Vegas Strip

The tradition of dimming the lights on the Vegas Strip is not a new one. Before the October 1 memorial of the tragic Las Vegas shooting, the community and casinos along the Las Vegas Strip have historically dimmed the lights in honor of Las Vegas ‘royalty’ who have passed away.

The Las Vegas Strip boasts one of the most awesome spectacles of lighting in the world. Its flashing casino marquees and neon beacons beckon gamblers from around the world to visit fabulous Las Vegas. The dimming of the Strip is the ultimate Las Vegas tribute, usually reserved for major headliners in Vegas, thus contributing to the overall image of Las Vegas as the ultimate show town.

The Rat Pack

The famous group of swinging, crooning, jesting party cats known as the Rat Pack are legends in Las Vegas lore. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. made up the Rat Pack, and their Las Vegas appearances spelled unprecedented casino fortunes whenever they were in town. The Strip lights were dimmed on May 15, 1998 in honor of Frank Sinatra, the day after his death. On December 28, 1995, the Strip went dark three days after the death of Dean Martin. The first member of the Rat Pack to pass away was Sammy Davis Jr. The Strip went dark on the evening of his death on May 16, 1990.

Dead Presidents

The Strip also dimmed for three minutes on June 11, 2004, in memory of President Ronald Reagan. Long before Reagan’s term as president, he was an actor and Vegas headliner in 1954 for a show called The Last Frontier. The only other president honored with a Strip dimming was President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated November 22, 1963. Las Vegas lights dimmed in remembrance.

More Legendary Headliners

Don Rickles was a legendary comedian whose sharp tongue lashed out with witty insults to anyone who caught his attention. He was a regular Vegas headliner for years, and Johnny Carson nicknamed him “Mr. Warmth.” When Don Rickles died on April 6, 2017 at age 90, the Strip lights dimmed in fitting tribute to Rickles. His face flashed all over Las Vegas screens and marquees. Another legendary comedian honored by a Strip dimming was George Burns, who died on March 9, 1996 at the ripe old age of 100. And in 1977, Las Vegas dimmed the lights after the death of the most famous Vegas celebrity of them all, the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley.

Global Memorials

The Strip has also gone dark on December 1 for several years in remembrance of World Aids Day. The longest period the lights have been dimmed on the Las Vegas Strip is 60 minutes. Since 2009, on the last Saturday in March, the Strip has gone dark for Earth Hour to raise awareness of climate change. Imagine the massive scale of the lights on the Las Vegas Strip; over four miles of dense Strip lighting, suddenly gone dark for one hour.

Three days after 9/11, several Las Vegas casinos dimmed their lights all night long in memorial of the tragic event. The Flamingo, Bally’s, Caesar’s Palace, Paris Las Vegas, and the Las Vegas Hilton participated in the dimming of lights. Other casinos joined in the memorial event by suspending all casino play for an entire minute.

John D. Gardner

John spent the last twenty years teaching advanced statistics at a community college before leaving to pursue his love of writing and strategy games. Combined with his extensive teaching experience, John has made it his mission to guide aspiring gamblers to their biggest wins.