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December 21, 2014

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First Friday’s Charles Ressler: We make a difference by working together

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First Friday in downtown Las Vegas.

First Friday 10th Anniversary

Devontah Pope of Las Vegas, models accessories from Alex's Unique Boutique during First Friday in Las Vegas on Friday, October 5, 2012. First Friday celebrated it's tenth anniversary this year. Launch slideshow »
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First Friday in downtown Las Vegas.

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First Friday in downtown Las Vegas.

Editor’s Note: As Robin Leach winds down his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy and heads to the East Coast for a brief visit before returning to the rigors of Vegas DeLuxe, many of our Strip personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. We continue today with Charles Ressler of downtown’s First Friday.

It’s always amazing how many points-of-view there are about Las Vegas. Tourists will visit for “what happens here, stays here” (think sex, drugs and debauchery). Of the natives born and raised here, some love the city, and some are not so fond of it.

Others make a point to let you know right away they’re from somewhere else, even if they were raised here. No matter what category you fall into, ask yourself the first thing that comes to mind when you think “Las Vegas.”

Was the answer art? Was it “Giant Praying Mantis?” How about “Yay, yay, yay, fun family day” or “lots of creativity in unexpected places and lots of joyful weirdness?”

Chances are the answer is no, but we recently tweeted this question to the community: “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of First Friday?” The answer overwhelmingly reflected the above.

The truth is, no matter how you identify yourself, First Friday is adopting a new category: Inclusive. Our numbers prove that inclusivity and Las Vegas really get along — well! In the last two years, First Friday has grown to 25,000 attendees, from 8,000.

So what is the allure and who are these people seeking inclusivity in Las Vegas of all places? They are people who don’t need validation from others and return this in kind. They are people willing to embrace a new view of Las Vegas. People who want to see the facade come down and get ready to build from the grit.

First Friday attendees are people who believe reality is created out of magic and that without magic we have nothing. No electricity, no precious air conditioning, not even fire.

Magic enables our reality. Entertainment journalist Robin Leach built a career on sparking people’s imagination by showing them fantastic worlds. He transformed that idea into reality.

First Friday’s magic moves people, too. For five hours every month, you can experience Ballet Flash Mobs; a 55-foot-tall, fire-shooting praying mantis; 2,000 objects unique to the world and sprung from the thin air of Las Vegas; the deep imaginations of an artist; and five stages of incredible, energetic live music from musicians hoping to inspire, if only just one person. It’s a live Pandora!

For one night per month, we invite you to rediscover monsters under your bed and believe in things you know aren’t real.

You may be thinking: “Magic? Are you bleeping kidding me?” Or “I don’t even like art.” So let’s put “magic” aside for a minute.

In March, First Friday’s theme was sustainability. We built giant sculptures to communicate how the Las Vegas population affects the environment. Then, we presented simple ways to lessen the impact. In April, First Friday attendees recycled more garbage than they tossed away, at a rate of 2-to-1. In previous months, these stats were reversed.

Believe in magic or don’t, but realize that we make a difference, and we do it by working together.

Imagine a Las Vegas where community, responsibility to one another and education are priorities. Imagine a place where people are celebrated for their strengths. Think of a city where art, music and food are building blocks of community.

If this is you, First Friday is the place to be. If at first thought you aren’t sure, come down and give it a try. Sometimes you only need to see magic in creation to spark.

Check out our other guest columns today from Michael Clift of “The Australian Bee Gees Show” at Excalibur and the Vegas.com staff and on Friday Keith Thompson and Joseph Barbara from “Jersey Boys” at Paris.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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