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Strip shrouded in darkness in observance of Earth Hour

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Justin M. Bowen

A view of the Las Vegas Strip from the top of Tropicana after the lights went off to celebrate Earth Hour on Saturday, March 26, 2011.

Sun, Mar 27, 2011 (12:22 a.m.)

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The Las Vegas Strip goes dark for Earth Hour 2011.

Earth Hour 2011

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KSNV coverage of Earth Hour on the Las Vegas Strip, March 26, 2011.

One by one, the lights blinked off down the shimmering Las Vegas Strip on Saturday night in observance of the fourth annual Earth Hour.

From the neon lights on the Flamingo to the LED lights on Planet Hollywood, the Strip went dark for an hour starting at 8:30 p.m. to send a message about climate change and the importance of energy conservation.

This year, Las Vegas joined thousands of cities in more than 134 countries on all seven continents to mark the event. Las Vegas first observed Earth Hour in 2009 and last year was named a showcase city for the World Wildlife Fund event.

The blackout started at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and rolled north as casinos shut off their exterior lights.

For many walking along the Strip, the sudden darkness came as a surprise.

Kyla Katimbang, 23, was visiting with a friend when she noticed the lights dimming. It was not what the Buena Park, Calif., resident expected on her first visit to Las Vegas.

“I was expecting all the lights on. I’m kind of disappointed about it,” she said. “That’s what they told me about Vegas — the lights and the casinos...I’m looking forward to the lights coming back on and taking pictures.”

Taking photos was exactly what Gloria Torres, 48, was hoping to do Saturday night. The Summerlin resident is a photography student at the College of Southern Nevada, and headed to the Strip with her husband and two grandsons to complete a class assignment.

Torres had her camera set on a tripod and had snapped off a few photos of the Bellagio when the lights went off. Then she realized it was Earth Hour.

“The one night I come down here — and I rarely come to the Strip — all the lights are off,” she said, laughing. “It looks different. To be honest, I would feel there’s something off, but there is still a lot of ambient light.”

Torres’ husband, Jose Garcia, said his family has become more energy conscious since power and fuel prices have gone up.

“Five years ago, everyone in our neighborhood left the lights on outside all night,” the 54-year-old said. “We’ve changed our ways. We adjusted to the rates.”

“The more it got up, the more we came down,” Torres said. “We should do this more often. Once a month. It’ll make a huge difference.”

For Sean Wright, Earth Hour was a chance to see his city in a completely new light — the dark. The 20-year Las Vegas resident missed last year’s Earth Hour, so he made sure to make this year’s observance special.

Wright, 46, and his friend Becky Standley, 36, stopped at Russell Road and the Beltway to watch the lights go off. Then they rushed down to the Strip to catch them turning back on.

“The coolest one is the Luxor,” Wright said, pulling up his sleeve to show off his tattoo of the lit pyramid. “I think they should do this every day.”

“It’s important to support it,” Standley said. “It’s only an hour. Our Earth needs a break.”

The Summerlin residents said they are doing their part to help the environment by recycling and downsizing.

“We should be buying smaller cars and conserving energy,” Wright said. “It’s the 21st century. It’s time to wake up.”

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