Criss Angel vs. The Grinch! -
11-27-2011, 12:05 AM
Christmas in Las Vegas is a huge, gaudy affair, with lavish lightfests as bright as Freemont Street in color and show, and giant decorated evergreen trees almost as tall as the luxury hotels and casinos. Garlands of greenery festooned with colorful bulbs and twinkling lights hang from every rail and eave; automated displays of Christmas scenes rival their counterparts at Macy's in New York. It seldom snows in that desert oasis, but the temperatures can drop to freezing at night during the winter months, giving the air a crisp bite people usually associate with the holiday season.
Every hotel in Vegas, from the humblest motor inn to the most luxurious resort, compete for the greatest number of holiday tourists by offering special travel packages and discounts to fill their rooms: free meals, complimentary passes to shows, discounts on rental cars, free gaming chips, or whatever would lure customers to their establisments. Stores pushed their merchandise with huge, in-your-face sales promotions to encourage those tourist to do their holiday shopping in the Entertainment Capital of America. Nightclubs and other venues keep the holiday spirits flowing with live bands and parties. More money passes hands during the last two months of the year in a city that bases its whole economy on the passing of cash from hand to hand, and almost everyone profits. The ringing of cash registers compensates for the lack of sleigh bells in Sin City.
This is not to say that the municipality of Las Vegas is too avaricious not to have a heart. Every year those same hotels, casinos, clubs and venues join forces with various civic groups to raise funds or collect toys, clothes, and food for the city and county's less fortunate citizens. There are fundraisers of every description, hosted by radio stations or by Vegas' celebrities. Donation boxes are set up for anyone to drop in a toy, a coat, a bag of canned goods, or anything to ease the burden of those who suffer most during the Christmas season, especially in a city where Want is keenly felt and Abundance rejoices.
One such notable is Criss Angel, five-time Magician of the Year and leading light in Las Vegas' pantheon of celibrities, renowned for his lavish stage show with Cirque du Soleil and insanely death-defying escapes--"demonstrations", he called them. His collection of customized automobiles and motorcycles were almost legendary, masterpieces of the customizer's art. His legion of fans, the Loyal, practically worshipped him, eagerly awaiting the next episode of his television series, MindFreak, and posting letters, comments, stories, poems and photos of him on the online fanboards. Less well known outside the Loyal community was his charitable work, such as his donations of time and money to the Make-A-Wish foundation for terminally ill children. On one episode of his series, he dressed himself in a Santa suit and magically filled a huge truck with toys to give to underprivileged children at a church-run mission. As much as he loves living la vida buena, he never let it blind him to those in need. Having been born six days before Christmas, no one exemplified the spirit of giving like Criss Angel.