Whenever I travel- be it for a bachelorette party, a couples getaway, a family vacation or a work trip -I inevitably dig through the latest news reports to get a better sense of what’s happening in that part of the world. I rather stay informed and educated to make the best of my experience.
For years, my best friend has been excited to experience Sin City for her bachelorette party. Like the rest of us, she was drawn towards the Vintage Vegas that once was made up of retro signs, Elvis, and show girls that is now replaced by the glamour and extravagance of the Strip. Although I visited Vegas with my parents as a child, admittedly, I was a little hesitant to go on this bachelorette trip last month in light of the tragedy that occurred almost two years ago.
In October 2017, the world was shook by the mass shooting at the hands of Stephen Paddock towards thousands of outdoor concertgoers. Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 innocent victims and injuring hundreds others. He later took his own life. To this day, his motive remains undetermined.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where headlines are constantly addressing stories of mass shootings country and worldwide, almost to a desensitizing degree. Gun control and gun reform debates split up our country’s political landscape. When it comes to traveling to destinations that have been so severely impacted by tragedy, one needs to remain sensitive and aware of how these events have transformed the essence of these places.
When I stepped out of the airport, I was immediately met with relief by the lighthearted nature and bustle of the city that truly never sleeps. My fears were further appeased during my conversation with my Uber driver, a native of Nevada, who shared how resilient Vegas became after this tragedy. In fact, hundreds of individuals (both tourists and locals) immediately donated blood the morning after to help the injured with blood transfusions. He mentioned there was a crowdfunded GoFundMe page set up to help raise money for those impacted by the tragedy. The community also pooled together to help gather resources, food, supplies, and provide support to one another during this trying time. Although momentarily Sin City became Scared City, it bounced back to who it was at its core.
During our four days there, I made it a point to ask any locals, waitstaff, promoters, or any one else we had the pleasure to encounter how long they lived there in an effort to better understand what they experienced and how it transformed Vegas. Through my conversations, I learned how much Nevadans appreciate the opportunity to share their home, a glossy oasis in an otherwise desert. Unsurprisingly, we had an exhilarating time pool-partying, splurging on overpriced cocktails, dancing in nightclubs, and feasting on fine dining, all while remembering that the city that is shiny and alluring on its exterior, is equally resilient inside.