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Las Vegas Celebrates 100 Years: Helldorado Days – A City and its Community Working Together

While living in Las Vegas, Nevada, I participated in a few freelance projects for R&R Partners, Helldorado Days being the most emotional.  The event was a reunion, of sorts, for a passionate group of those considered to be ole timers in what is now a diverse city.  Even my grandmother told me stories of attending the event with my grandfather, a soldier and dentist, while they were living on the Nellis Air force Base during World War II.

In my effort to produce compelling media releases, I interviewed dozens of past attendees and found myself becoming an expert, of sorts, of what the ambiance entailed.

I ran through pages and pages of past Helldorado Days Queens, tracking down there whereabouts.  I even had the opportunity to watch their eyes light up as they met for a pre-parade breakfast and photo shoot, with each woman proudly donning a sash from their heyday.

The City of Las Vegas, Elks Lodge and various community groups were incredibly passionate and cooperative collaborators.  A snapshot from the project is listed below –

SUMMARY

The resurrection of Helldorado Days, one of the most famous celebrations in the history of Las Vegas, is scheduled to commence in May 2005.  A series of traditional events, for all ages, are scheduled as a part of Las Vegas’ Centennial. From a Trail Ride and Rodeo to a Poker Tournament and Shootout, residents and visitors alike are sure to enjoy the diversity of festivities surrounding Helldorado Days 2005.

The heart of Helldorado Days will reside in its legendary home, Western Village. The village is Helldorado Days ‘home base,’ hosting a multitude of entertaining and educational daily experiences. Helldorado Days will kick-off in early May during a three-day trail ride and conclude on Sunday, May 15, Las Vegas’ 100th Birthday.  Upholding a long-standing tradition, a portion of all proceeds from the historical celebration will go to local charities.

Established in 1934, Helldorado Days were born in Las Vegas. With only 5,000 residents most were preparing to complete the labor-intensive Hoover Dam. Las Vegas City Fathers grew concerned that residents would relocate, and realized they needed an attraction that would create a sense of community pride strong enough to encourage the dam workers to consider making southern Nevada their permanent home.  The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge #1468 sponsored the first Helldorado Days, which became the beginning of an era that would influence hundreds of thousands of people, and span over six decades.

PRIMARY AUDIENCES:

  • Key local regional and national media
  • Las Vegas natives
  • Las Vegas newcomers, those that have moved to the area after 1984
  • Long-time Las Vegas residents, those that moved to the area prior to 1985
  • Tourists interested in western events, and/or being a part of Centennial

GOAL:
To position Helldorado Days 2005 as Centennial’s must-attend event, while educating the community at large on the history of its inception in an effort to instill and promote community pride.

MEAUSREMENTS FOR SUCCESS:

  1. Media Coverage
  2. Western Village – number of visitors

KEY MESSAGES:

  • Develop and communicate key messages emphasizing the following:
  • Must-attend Centennial event
  • Revival of Helldorado’s good ‘ole days
  • Sense of community pride
  • Historic relevance of events
  • Charitable contributions
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