Asking The Difficult Question: Is It Time For #VegasStrong To Move On?

Workers install a #VegasStrong banner on the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Las Vegas. Stephen Paddock opened fire from the hotel on an outdoor country music concert killing dozens and injuring hundreds.

Blonde4ever returns from her annual fall trip and wonders if it is time to return to the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. 

I have an opinion that I wish to express. This is just one woman’s opinion. I mean no disrespect to anyone involved in this situation. Truly I don’t.

I flew into Vegas last week after a long and trying travel day. I was exhausted. I was ouchy. But like all other Vegas aficionados, my tiredness and pain receded with the first sight of the Vegas Strip. I was so happy to be there that I forgot.  I saw the beautiful golden towers of Mandalay Bay and Delano come into view and still, I did not remember. It wasn’t until I saw the giant “Vegas Strong” sign on the side of the building that it hit me “Oh yes…the Tragedy”  and my heart hurt. This was repeated multiple times during my ten-day trip. I would be enjoying myself somewhere, completely oblivious to all the world’s problems, and then something with “Vegas Strong” written on it would come into my line of vision and make me feel sad. 

The first time I ever heard the phrase “——– Strong” was after the Boston bombings.  “Boston Strong” was all over the media for awhile and it was meaningful and poignant.  But this phrase has come to be applied to every city or country that has experienced a tragedy.  “Paris Strong” “London Strong” “Texas Strong” “Puerto Rico Strong” “Hamtramck Strong”.  Any time a phrase becomes this overused it loses all meaning.  It is a cliche.

And in the case of Vegas, it is detrimental. In order to promote the city, it needs to be viewed as a safe and carefree place. Yes, we all adore Vegas and want to display love and support towards it, but in my opinion, the best way to do that now is to allow people to return to normal. Let’s get back to the reasons why we come to Vegas in the first place.  Why do we come? We come to have fun, to relax,  and forget the troubles of the world. We don’t come to be reminded of horrible disasters.

I believe it is time for the crosses and the dead flowers and the mementos to go away at the Vegas sign and I am happy to hear that is supposed to happen November 12th.  I sincerely hope that that area will be cleaned up and remain free of all reminders of October 1.  Visitors should be able to come to the sign and pose for those happy Vegas vacation pictures as they have done since that sign was erected in 1959.
The best way to keep “Vegas Strong” is to keep those happy visitors returning.
[Photo Cred. Michelle Long & The Japan Times]

About the Author

Bonnie, aka Blonde4ever, is the admin of one of our favorite Vegas forums: LasVegas4ever. She covers a large spectrum of topics from her personal experiences in Las Vegas.

33 Comments on "Asking The Difficult Question: Is It Time For #VegasStrong To Move On?"

  1. I was in Vegas a week after the shooting and my impression was that #VegasStrong was more for the locals than for the tourists. It felt to me as though the locals were very much in pain after such a tragic event had happened in their city and that the #VegasStrong slogan wasn’t just a slogan to them, it was a way for them to express pride and solidarity in their city in the midst of such a tragedy. This was especially apparent when I attended the first home game of the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team just 9 days after the shooting. #VegasStrong was everywhere in the arena, including on the across the shoulders of all of the Golden Knights players, along the dasher boards around the entire rink (replacing all advertisements) and on towels placed on every seat in the arena. #VegasStrong really meant something to the people in attendance there that night, most of whom were locals. I bought a VegasStrong t-shirt at the game that night and the next day when I was wearing it, everywhere I went people were asking me where I got that shirt because they wanted one. Most or all of the people asking me were locals. Seeing #VegasStrong may seem like a sad, depressing reminder of a tragic event to tourists visiting Las Vegas who are just there to have fun, but it carries a lot of meaning to the people who live in Vegas. I agree that maybe it’s time to start removing some of the more shrine-like installations that appeared in the days after the shooting at places such as the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, but around the city I think #VegasStrong is still relevant to the locals and it probably will be for quite some time.

  2. I must say I agree with you. There are ways to still graciously respect the horrible event, without the constant reminders.

  3. I normally am not a big fan of your reviews, and this one really isn’t a review, but I fully agree with you. In my view, having the crosses by the Welcome to LV sign would be like having crosses at the foot of the Statue of Liberty after 9/11 (a bad idea)! And this xxx-Strong business is getting old. My take is on “Vegas Strong” is that it’s like saying “Let’s put the deaths behind us and move on, be strong, forgetaboutit!.” Not a really a good rally cry kind of thing, is it?

  4. My Wife & I spent Halloween in Vegas and share your thoughts. Our first stop after checking into P/H was to walk to Mandalay Bay to show our support by spending money there feeding the Slots. We spent the afternoon there and felt like too many people were avoiding the place. As horrible as the Oct 1st slaughter was, I was not impressed by the huge #VegasStrong banner. The Asshat that wounded & killed all those innocent people deserves zero notoriety, We need to give him and others like him the middle finger and show how resilient and unafraid we are. We love our 3 trips a year to Vegas and will not let the actions of any wackjob stop us. Clean up the shrines, take down the banner, and honor the victims by doing the same things they went there to do, Eat, Drink, Play and Enjoy Vegas ! Well done Bonnie.

  5. I agree…now. I think after the one-month anniversary it is time to move forward once again. This is always a touchy subject. Mourning is done on a person’s own time. But for the sake of everyone’s mental health, I think November 12th is a good time frame.

  6. Yes, should move on- but a minor question, what happens to all those flowers and stuff people are leaving at the sign? Especially when it welts

  7. Patrick Campbell | November 6, 2017 at 10:24 am |

    Personally, I hate the automatic “(fill in the gap) STRONG” label that almost every community that is hit with adversity seems to latch on to. It gives me a feeling of an advertising huckster trying to sell me something. And unwilling to take the time to create something new and personal. Just get it out on t-shirts, buttons, banners.
    Please don’t misunderstand. I feel for the people of Houston. I wept seeing the faces of the Las Vegas shooting victims. And when I was in Las Vegas a couple of weeks after the shooting, my heart was lifted when I saw a “Vegas Strong” banner, especially when it was someplace small and unexpected, personal not corporate, genuine not strategic. But like it or not the repetition of the phrase waters it down. Were it something else like “Houston United” or “Vegas Will Survive” I think people would be more likely to embrace these rallying calls and be supportive of them being displayed longer. We all have our own timeline to mourn, but collectively I would say keep the banners up through Thanksgiving at the very latest. We must not forget but we must move on.

  8. GREGG H HOFFMAN | November 6, 2017 at 3:44 pm |

    My wife and I also spent Halloween in Vegas. The entire 4 days of our stay I felt the strain imposed on the city. Wherever we went a thin haze of sadness seemed to cover what should have been normal. We now live in a nation of firearms and anger. Vegas Strong is a reaction similar to one of the final scenes in the movie Platoon. After all the horror war can impose, a single comrade stood on a hill saluting another who was able to leave, showing his strength and his hope pounding his chest with his weapon.

    They went on their separate ways striving to be strong, facing their unknown futures. Boston Strong, Texas Strong, Vegas Strong they are all the same. We must remain strong for all and caring of each other.

  9. Just my thoughts…with much respect to everyone’s opinions here – there is no right or wrong.

    The people of Las Vegas will decide when they are ready for the “Vegas Strong” reminders to go away.

    Much like a family grieving the loss of a loved one, it is not for us to tell them it’s time to move beyond their grief. They will do so in their own time and we will show support with a loving embrace and an open heart. We will support Las Vegas and its people with our time, our money and our network of encouraging others. We may not like seeing the banners, but they were not put there for us.

    They will choose the time to put the tragedy behind them as best they can and put the banners away.

  10. Thomas Pokorny | November 6, 2017 at 5:08 pm |

    As someone who recently moved here from the Orlando area – I’m disappointed about the suggestion that we should just “move on” – especially with the motive of “keeping the tourists happy”. I get how huge the tourism industry is here. I come from an area of the state more or less built around theme parks. That said, I didn’t remember hearing folks say we should tone down the rhetoric after the Pulse shooting happened to appease the tourists or anything like that.

    You’re entitled to your opinion of course, but I think your suggestion is incredibly insensitive and tone deaf. I was at a benefit event yesterday, and the reality of this event really struck me when one of the first responders in the audience was openly weeping near the end of the event (when pics showing the responders were presented on the big screen).

    On the other hand, it’s good to see there’s a sense of community here. My heart goes out to those that were effected by this, and I was honored to be a part of an event intended to help the city heal.

    • Actually the “Move On” thing was not my title. I did not say that. Obviously there will be memorials to this tragic event. I just think that for a city that depends on tourism, having the first things that people are confronted with when they hit town to be giant signs on buildings (if they are flying) or crosses and flowers (if they are driving) that remind them of a tragic event is not good for the industry. And yes, I am looking at this from a visitor’s perspective.

  11. I’m from Boston. I also love Las Vegas, visit several times a year, and can remember back to just after 9/11 when my sister and I boarded an almost empty plane on her birthday trip on 9/22 to Las Vegas and were in tears at the touching memorials at NYNY. Since then too many crazed gun toting tragedies seem to play like Groundhog Day, including innocents enjoying a concert on a beautiful evening next to Mandalay Bay. The Boston Marathon bombers were truly evil and signaled almost the end of innocence at family, community gatherings. ‘ Boston Strong’ was not a commercial marketing sympathy grab. It was a gut check, pissed off reaction to let the bastards who f’d us over know they did not win. I know that the horrible tragedies since then in Houston, Orlando, and Las Vegas and now Texas cannot be described in terms we can ever lightly or glibly describe in a slogan. But I believe “Boston Strong’ or xxx Strong should not become a cliche. It’s a horror, but Strong in Boston, meant moving on.

  12. So I think that what has occurred is that too many companies (MGM in particular) have tried to make this a marketing thing (hence the giant banner on MB and the MGM TV ads). It is NOT, it should be a local “Don’t Tread On Me” campaign. Now that theme has been a US thing since the American Revolution.

    • Agreed. I’ve been to several MGM properties over the years, and what they care about most is the bottom line. Or doing the least amount of work possible, in the case of the Luxor.

      This whole bandwagoning on the back of the tragedy is cynical marketing at its most unpleasant.

  13. It’s definitely a tough call. But then I remember that just outside of the Strip is a very tight-knit community. Just watch the news and it feels really like a small town. So as much as it is a marketing scheme to keep people feel confident about coming to Vegas (which is always precarious – see NYC post-9/11, where it was dicey for awhile) I think it’s also a lot more for that it’s the people of Vegas that keep Vegas strong.

    • You’re right. I’m a Vegas local (a transplant, as most of us are, but a local for several years), and we really are a small town outside the Strip. All of those homes you fly over when you come here are filled with families and real people. Most of us work in hospitality, which is a very tight knit industry. Everyone I know either was there or knew someone who was. My daughter lost one of the recreation staff members at her after school program. Vegas may feel gimmicky to some people, or just a huge playground to visitors, and we’re obviously grateful for the millions of people who make our hometown their vacation destination every year, but this is home for us. We’re still horrified and grieving. We give tourists our all day in and day out. Please let us move on from this when we’re ready.

  14. I think, at some point, Vegas Strong will come to signify the resilience of the people who live and work and laugh and love in Vegas. Instead of being a tragic reminder, maybe it can become a source of pride. The people of Vegas came together, in an amazing way. They showed, by their actions, how a community bands together. I hope, at least, that at some point, Vegas Strong becomes a source of pride to locals and a source of admiration to tourists. I apologize if I am wrong or looking at this the wrong way and I don’t mean to upset anyone.

  15. As visitors cycle through for their first visit after the tragedy, many of them are very interested in visiting the sign, as it currently sits as a makeshift memorial. Because of their love of the city, many of them feel like they are almost honorary citizens. They were deeply affected by this almost as much as we locals were. They want to remember and pay their respects.

    After 9/11, the Liberty statue at New York casino was a depository for memorial items for years. (MGM Resorts would eventually take them into storage, and the collection is now at UNLV).

    At the end of the day, it isn’t locals (for the most part) visiting the sign and leaving things. It is visitors. Any locals who want to have done it already. It is the visitors who are continuing the memorial. And, it is the visitors who will thus “decide” when it has run its course. As far as the banner on Mandalay Bay, I have to imagine that MGM Resorts will be regularly taking the public’s “temperature” to figure out when it comes down.

  16. I am a Canadian that visits Las Vegas 2- 3 times a year. We were just in Vegas in September. I can’t even begin to comprehend what it will feel like to visit after this tragedy. For me, it will make no difference whether there is a sign up or not.
    I feel the pain of those families who lost their loved ones and I will never forget what happened there. I know the moment I drive the strip I will think of those people and that horrific night. The crosses are being put into a museum ; I hope they turn that area where this tragedy happened into something beautful as they did in NYC.

  17. LasVegasJunkie here…. Please note that I, not Bonnie, came up with the idea for the title “Asking The Difficult Question: Is It Time For #VegasStrong To Move On?”
    If anyone has any issues with the title please email me directly and we can discuss outside of the comments section. Thanks guys!

  18. Michael Graca | November 8, 2017 at 2:20 pm |

    I think its more about our community than promoting , for example you yourself come in once in a while have a great time and leave…but locals actually live here…work here…go to bed here..and have families here and that reminds us of the things that make our city as great as it is.

  19. I also live in Boston. I agree with the general sentiment about it being a platitude that gets worn out, but I also agree with the other posters who said it’s up to the people who live and work there to decide when it’s outlived it’s usefulness.

    It’s also up to the people of a country to decide when they’re sick of having to put up insta-shrines and #Strong ribbons every two months.

  20. shelbycharger | November 9, 2017 at 12:37 pm |

    I will note my respect when I visit next month. I will probably have a good time I am a visitor to this town, so the weight of their despair is not judged by me They get to decide.

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