view looking down on the display of three mountain
goats at the Palazzo in Las Vegas to celebrate the
year of the goat, sheep, ram in the Chinese lunar
VEGAS — Nobody likes to get fleeced, especially in Las
Vegas, where the odds are stacked in favor of a good time
and a lighter wallet. So why are The Venetian, The
Palazzo, the Bellagio and other resorts filled with images
of sheep, goats and rams? Because this is the time when
casinos go all out to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
19 marks the beginning of the Year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram
in the Chinese zodiac. Kind-hearted and clever are traits
attributed to people born under this sign. Rachel Carson
and Michelangelo are sheep people, as well as Nicole
Kidman and Bruce Willis.
you are in Las Vegas between now and early March, you will
notice the bell tower at the entrance to The Venetian
hotel and casino draped in "Year of the Goat"
banners. On Feb. 19, the traditional Lion Dance will take
place in the hotel lobby and parade through the property.
The dance is considered good luck for the new year.
rotunda between The Palazzo and The Venetian is already
decorated with colorful red-and-yellow Chinese lanterns
hanging from the ceiling over a vignette of three mountain
goats surrounded by large and small gold coins.
displays near the waterfall atrium feature sheep covered
in white carnations representing their fleece. Giant gold
coins are placed among the 1,200 blooming flowers,
including hyacinth and orchids. A feng shui master worked
with horticulturalists at the resorts to increase the luck
at the casino. A plaque notes that the gold coins are
there "to attract fortune and wealth to our
visitors." Inscribed in Chinese characters is the
message: "May your happiness be according to your
wishes," and on the reverse side, "Live as long
as the tortoise and the crane." Both animals are
symbols of longevity for the Chinese.
resort that really goes all out for the Chinese New Year
is the Bellagio. Famous for its dancing fountains, the
Bellagio has the most elaborate exhibit in town under its
glass conservatory and botanical garden, with 22,000
red-and-gold flowers, bonsai trees, silk lanterns, trees
hung with red lanterns, and a 14-foot mountain topped with
a family of five mechanical goats. There is also a
21,000-gallon koi pond topped by a 12-foot-tall lantern,
figures of Chinese children adorned in costumes made of
5,000 cut flowers and gold good luck I-Ching coins. It
takes six full days to put up the display, which remains
through March 15.
Bellagio has been doing a Chinese New Year display since
it opened in 1998. The Aria hotel and casino will
celebrate the Year of the Ram with a 7-foot-tall, gold,
LED-lit ram of recycled aluminum. Hanging from the lobby
ceiling will be a 229-foot dragon surrounded by 140 red
lanterns. It will be up by Feb. 12. The Bellagio, Aria and
MGM Grand resorts will celebrate with a good luck Lion
Dance as well.
all that positive energy, this may be the best time of
year to visit the strip and roll the dice.
are direct flights daily from Pittsburgh International
Airport to McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas on
Southwest Airlines (www.southwest.com).
airlines fly to Las Vegas with one or more stops.
& Dragon Dances — dynamic and colorful dances at
Bellagio, Aria and MGM Grand:
5 p.m. Feb. 19 at the main porte cochere.
Grand: 1 p.m. Feb. 20 inside the main lobby.
6:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the main porte cochere.
the three hotels, Yau Kung Moon will perform Chinese lion
and dragon dances in a traditional southern Shaolin Kung
Fu system, a collection of martial arts with more than
1,000 years of history. Yau Kung Moon is one of the world’s
most respected martial arts, dragon and lion dance
organizations. Known for their trademark gold uniforms and
innovative routines, it was the first U.S. team to compete
in the 1990 Invitational World Lion Dance Festival in
the metal sheep, go to www.watsonandco.com.
the ram’s head bust, go to www.donnyosmond.com.
the wall-mounted ram’s head, go to www.creativecoop.com.
you can’t make it to Las Vegas, the Organization of
Chinese Americans in Pittsburgh is celebrating the Year of
the Sheep Feb. 21 the Syria Shrine Center in Harmar. A
12-course Mandarin-style dinner and live entertainment,
including the Lion Dance, are part of the fun planned for
the evening (www.ocapghpa.org).