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April 17, 2014

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Las Vegas tourists soaking up wet weather in stride

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Paul Takahashi

An Elvis impersonator waits to cross Casino Center Blvd. in downtown Las Vegas on a rainy Wednesday, Dec. Dec. 22, 2010.

Updated Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 | 4:04 p.m.

Tourists brave deluge in Las Vegas

Tourists braved the deluge at the Launch slideshow »

Something unusual was spotted Wednesday in Las Vegas: Umbrellas.

Heavy rains have soaked the Las Vegas Valley and many tourists went scurrying for cover inside casinos and shopping centers.

Out on the Las Vegas Strip, a few visitors braved the mid-afternoon deluge, wearing raincoats and toting umbrellas.

Chris Green and his wife, Michelle, huddled under an umbrella as they crossed in front of the Excalibur Hotel and Casino. The couple, visiting from Australia, said they considered themselves unlucky for being caught in the “once every 100 year” storm in Las Vegas.

“We thought it would be nice and sunny,” Chris Green, 35, said, adding that their plans to visit the Grand Canyon might be canceled if the rain persisted through the week. “We’re a little disappointed. (But) we’ve been shopping more and staying indoors.”

A few steps away, at the Luxor obelisk, Vikas Sharma, 38, was taking pictures with his wife and young daughter, who was smiling as she jumped around in the puddles. The California family said they were hoping to escape the rain back home by traveling to Las Vegas, where initial forecasts had told them it would not be wet.

“We realized, ‘Oops!’” Sharma said. “We wanted to go to the Skywalk and the Grand Canyon. I like the rain, but I hate having to change our plans.”

Just down the street, Brian Campbell and his friend, D’Arcy Hlavin, both 22, looked ill-prepared for the rain as they snapped photos in front of the iconic "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign with only a hooded sweatshirt for cover. Despite being drenched, the high school friends from Cleveland said they were glad to be in Las Vegas.

“When we left Cleveland, there was a foot of snow and the wind chill was 8 degrees,” Campbell said. “It’s awesome here. This rain feels good.”

Across town, the canopy over the Fremont Street Experience provided some cover for a handful of visitors who were milling about in spite of the drizzle.

For Marilyn Walker, a visitor from Dayton, Ohio, the rain wasn’t dampening her spirits.

“It is beautiful to be here,” she said. “It’s just like our spring weather back in Ohio.”

Walker, 57, who was browsing items in a Fremont Street souvenir shop with her brother, Richard Stollings, a 58-year-old California resident, said she had recently gotten an update from her sister back in Ohio about what the weather was doing in her hometown.

“My sister said it was 28 degrees in Dayton and about to snow, so I’m glad to be here,” she said. “What’s the big deal? It’s fantastic weather.”

Wendy Tinoco, 21, a cashier at Crazy Ely souvenir shop, said she had some problems getting to work this morning because of some street closures.

“I don’t like the rain or the cold,” she said, adding that wet weather made for slower business. “It keeps tourists away because they prefer to stay inside the hotels,” she said.

A life-long Las Vegas resident, Tinoco said the amount of rain this week has been staggering. “It’s the first time I’ve seen so much rain,” she said.

Robert D., who declined to give his last name, said he came to Fremont Street to relax and take refuge under the canopy while enjoying a short trip to Las Vegas. The 51-year-old San Francisco resident said his original destination was London’s Heathrow Airport; travel delays across Europe have made international headlines.

He was supposed to leave for London on Saturday. His flight was rescheduled and he opted to spend a few days in Las Vegas to “escape the rain in San Francisco.”

No such luck.

“It’s not too bad – I’m used to it. It doesn’t seem to be raining too much,” he said, taking cover near Fitzgerald’s.

Maria Montes, 21, a vendor at a bead shop kiosk, said the rain so far isn’t affecting her business because most of the foot traffic comes from evening visitors.

“Vegas needed some rain,” she said. “It hasn’t rained this much in a long, long time.”

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