Talking history and saving the Riv with Darlene Dalmaceda

"Nostalgia is not a fake emotion. Nostalgia is an ache for something that did exist....Sentimentality is always about a lie. Nostalgia is about real things gone. Nobody truly mourns a lie."  Pete Hamill

We had the opportunity to talk to Darlene Dalmaceda who has been a driving force behind the efforts to save the Riviera and we wanted to share the interview with all.

1) How did you get interested in Las Vegas history?

I have always been fascinated by the Mid-Century, especially the 1950s and early 1960s. My parents were older when I was growing up so I knew about the Standards before I ever found out about the Top 40! I was also exposed to the movies and pop culture of that time. 

Las Vegas has also been a special place for me. My family went on vacations during the mid to late 80s when the old places were still here. As a child I was dazzled by the glitter and neon lights of the Strip. I remember some of the old road signs and Tropicana was my dad's favorite place to stay. Circus Circus was where my parents took me to play games and watch the circus acts. I used to beg my folks to take me back, but I didn't return to Las Vegas until I moved here from Southern California in 2004.

However, my interest in Vegas history did not really begin in earnest till I discovered, a defunct website that was created by Joel Rosales (now Lost and Found Vegas on Facebook) that meticulously documented the Stardust and Frontier implosions. I only visited the Stardust twice before it closed and I regret I did not visit more; the place had so much history. I also enjoyed watching the movie Casino and reading the stories about the mob and how they used to run the town. Our history is not that old compared to other parts of the country and becoming increasingly rarer to find anything about, especially on the Strip. So a combination of all these things really spearheaded my love of vintage Vegas.


2) What spurred you to start your Facebook group? 

I have a Facebook group called The Golden Age of Las Vegas: Vintage Hotels, Casinos, Headliners, and History, which has been around since 2009. At the time it was the only vintage Vegas group I knew of on Facebook. I wanted to find like-minded people who also had a love of vintage Vegas. It had grown to 500 members and at some point Facebook changed their groups format. The group was archived and became dormant for a while till it was resurrected about three or four years ago. At last count it has over 2,000 members and many of them frequently post pictures and videos, mainly from the 1950s-1970s, but we also cover a little bit from pre-1950 and the 1980s.

As far as how my group is different from the others, I know a couple of groups tend to focus more on local places that are gone now while mine focuses more on the Strip and Downtown. The others also post the same kind of content that I do; I also enjoy looking at what they are posting and re-post their content to my group as well.


3) What is your favorite hotel from the classic Las Vegas era and why.

It's so hard to choose! They were all special in their own way, but I have to say Riviera. The "Riv" hung around longer than a lot of the places that are gone, 60 years, which is an extraordinary accomplishment in this implosion-crazy day and age! It's ironic because of the fact that it almost didn't make it in the beginning, but there was always someone to step in and bail it out, who believed in keeping it going. 


the Riviera

I spent a lot of time there over the years at various events. I hosted several pool parties and a dinner party at R Steak and Seafood on April 20th to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the hotel's opening. My mom and I had a staycation there the last week before it was closed. I was also there on Closing Day, May 4th, when the Crazy Girls statue was removed. It was very sad to see so many customers and employees lose a place that had been so special to them, and to me as well. I was always treated well by the staff and met so many great new friends from my group at my events and at the liquidation sale. All these things combined made it my favorite classic Vegas place.

4) Why are people still drawn to those hotels and their history? 

I think people who were around in those days are drawn to them because it reminds them of a time when they were happy. Vegas was such a smaller and different town from what I know. They just miss those days because they feel it was better than what has replaced it. I cannot say for sure if it is or not because I only experienced it through the eyes of a child, but I wish I was around to experience the classic Vegas era in its heyday. We have some of the most colorful history in America and it is sad that a lot of it has been lost to progress. I understand times have changed and Vegas is a place that has to change with the times to stay relevant. Still, it would be nice to keep something for future generations. Where do we draw the line? My fear is that soon there will be nothing left and I think that's why people who care about our history and heritage want something to hold onto to show future generations where we came from, what our legacy is, because we shouldn't forget our roots and where we came from.

5) Why is the Riviera important to Las Vegas Strip history?

The Riviera was the ninth Strip resort to open in 1955. It was the first high-rise hotel on the Strip, nine stories, which was a big deal back then because the hotels at the time were one-story motor courts. Liberace was the featured headliner and cut the ribbon on Opening Day. There were all the other fabulous entertainers as well: Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand, Engelbert Humperdinck, Dean Martin, I could go on and on. Anyone who was important headlined there at one point or another. There were so many movies and TV shows that were filmed there throughout the years. In the mid-80s it ushered in the "Burger King Revolution", and was the first property on the Strip to have a fast food restaurant. Also, it was the only Strip resort to survive completely intact. Not much original Mid-Century architecture survives on the Strip anymore from our first resort "boom" of the 1950s. It is among a handful of "Rat Pack" era hotel/casinos that are still standing, but not for much longer unless we can do something to save it in some way, shape, or form.

6) How can others get involved in helping save the Riviera building?

The LVCVA just announced their plans to demolish the building for $42 million, but that has not deterred us from our efforts. Miles Campbell, one of my group members that lives in Grass Valley, CA, started a petition on to submit to the LVCVA. We have reached a little over 200 signatures in three weeks, but we are looking for a lot more! To sign and share the petition, please go to

Also, I am looking for volunteers to petition in front of the Riviera itself to ask people for physical signatures and to direct them to the website. To find out how you can help and become a volunteer, please contact me at or contact me through my Facebook profile at or through my Facebook group,

There was a young man in his early 20s I met briefly at my Riviera pool party on May 3rd that was wearing a t-shirt that said "Save the Riviera". He was the only one I know of that spoke out against the LVCVA purchasing and demolishing the resort at the meeting they had. I don't remember his name and I am trying to find him. If anyone knows who he may be, please contact me because I would like to get in touch with him.

7) What is the big difference between the classic era and today's Strip?

I think the biggest difference is people want bigger, flashier, more over-the-top spectacle, and more to offer besides gaming. Many people I met when I used to work in the hotels said they came to Las Vegas for things other than gambling. Nowadays we have much more in the way of shopping, nightclubs, attractions, and many tourists bring their kids as well. Also, the younger generation tends to gravitate toward more of a club culture rather than going to lounge acts and live entertainment like in the past. If there are live entertainers they tend to be in larger arena type venues, big musical festivals like Rock in Rio, Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), Life is Beautiful, etc., rather than intimate showrooms like the Rat Pack used to perform in. The headliners now tend to be DJs who play at ultra pools and clubs on the Strip. For more of an "old school" Vegas feel, Downtown Fremont Street is the way to go and still has many of the original hotels/casinos from the Mid-Century period.

Also, Vegas was much smaller and felt more intimate 40-60+ years ago. Going to the casino was an elegant affair where people would get dressed up in their finest clothing for a night out on the town. From what I have heard, it was more service-oriented and the staff members at the old hotels and casinos really got to know their customers a lot more than the bigger corporate-owned places. There were also better deals as far as what the hotels/casinos had to offer their guests. Robert De Niro in Casino said it best, "Nowadays it's like checking into an airport. If you order room service, you're lucky if you get it by Thursday." It really was more of a "Wild West" town in the old days, so there was this sense it was this wide open frontier. Vegas has grown so much now that it feels more like a major metropolitan city and top resort destination where people not only come for vacation, but also for business and conventions.

However, not everything back in the classic era was positive. For example, we were known for being the "Mississippi of the West" and there was a lot of segregation going on. The Moulin Rouge helped to break that color barrier and so did some of the entertainers like Frank Sinatra who were involved in integrating the hotels/casinos. I can say in that respect it is much better now as far as the diversity of the people who live and work here in Vegas is concerned.

8) What do you want people to know about Las Vegas that they might not?

Las Vegas is not just about hotels and casinos, it is about people from all walks of life. We have a great community here beyond the Strip and Downtown, people who live and work everyday to make it the "Entertainment Capital of the World". We have art and culture just like everywhere else, you just have to want to look for it. It's the same thing with our history. It's important to remember the past so that we can see where we've been and how we can apply what we have learned toward making a better future.

Darlene Dalmaceda is originally from Southern California and moved to Las Vegas in 2004. She is a graduate of The Art Institute of Las Vegas with a Bachelors Degree in Digital Filmmaking and Video Production. She has produced two short films and has several upcoming projects in the works. She also owns an online specialty retail boutique called Vegas Fine Pens and Gifts. 

She was the former Ms. Henderson United States 2013/2014 and the current Ms. Nevada Regency International 2015/2016. She is an active member of several networking groups and a supporter of various charitable organizations. Her new platform is to focus on preserving historic landmarks not only here in Nevada, but nationwide. 

Most recently she was a cast member in the murder mystery dinner show "Marriage Can Be Murder" at The D Hotel and Casino.

Our thanks to Darlene for taking the time to talk to us and if you know the young man in the "Save the Riv" tee-shirt, please contact her or us!



What's your favorite Classic Las Vegas Strip Hotel?

Talking with friends the other day and we got to talking about our favorite Classic Las Vegas Strip hotel.

Which one was yours?

El Rancho Vegas


The Hotel Frontier

The Flamingo


The Thunderbird

Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn


The Sahara

The Sands- A Place in the Sun


The Royal Nevada

The Riviera

The Dunes


The Hacienda


The Tropicana


The Stardust


The Aladdin


Caesars Palace

Circus Circus

The Landmark


The International


The Original MGM Grand Hotel

Hit the comments and tell us which one is your favorite or visit us at Facebook and tell us:


Final Update- July 4th Fireworks listings for the entire Las Vegas Valley

Don't forget, we have all the fireworks information you need to have a spectacular July 4th in Las Vegas!!!! And you can get this information on the go- on your phone or tablet!


Our annual July 4th fireworks listings for Las Vegas and the surrounding Valley is one of the most popular non-history features we highlight and with long holiday weekend only a month away, we thought it was time to start gathering the information.

This is the final update for the holiday weekend, so be sure to book mark us and check back often.

If you make Las Vegas your home, we have plenty of information for fun, family events to attend.  Or if you are planning a visit to the Bright Light City over the holiday, plan early as the town will be crowded with tourists! Check out our sidebar for great deals for hotels and shows!

Remember, the heat in Las Vegas (and especially down in Laughlin and Boulder City) can be deceiving. Wear plenty of sunscreen and stay hydrated with water (not alcohol). If you do drink, do so responsibly.

July 3rd:

Annual Night of Fire at the Bullring  

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Features Fireworks, SMRA Supermodifieds 

 The Bullring, Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s NASCAR-sanctioned 3/8-mile asphalt oval, will kick off the Independence Day holiday weekend on Friday, July 3rd, with its annual Night of Fire. The night of family fun features fireworks and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series stock car racing, a jet car and SMRA Supermodifieds.

Spectator gates will open at 5 p.m. with racing at 7 p.m. Fireworks are tentatively scheduled for 9:30 p.m. 
Stock car racing classes include: SMRA Supermodifieds (50 laps), MetroPCS Super Late Models (76 laps), Chargers, Outlaw Enduro Bombers (76 laps), twin Legends Cars features, Bandoleros.

Advanced Spectator admission: 
Adults: $15. 
Senior citizens and military personnel with ID: $15. 
Children (6-12): $8. 

Day of Pricing:

Adults: $20

Senior citizens and military personnel with ID: $15.

Children (6-12): $8.

The Bullring's concession stand offers a family-friendly dollar menu, including $1 hot dogs, $1 soda and $1 beer. For more information, please call the LVMS ticket office at (702) 644-4444 or visit Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

July 4th:

Las Vegas 51's Baseball Game and Fireworks

 When: July 4th, after the game
Where: Cashman Field
Admission: $14
More info: 702-326-7200

Fireworks Extravaganza/Budweiser Dollar Beer/Adoption Awareness Foundation Night

The 51s will host the Albuquerque Isotopes, Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, at Cashman Field. The traditional post-game "Fireworks Extravaganza" will be presented! Also, Budweiser Dollar Beer Night is presented at every Thursday home game. Proper identification and wristbands are required.

67th Annual Boulder City Damboree

When: July 4th
Where: Boulder City
Fireworks Display - 9:00 pm

7:00 am


 9:00 am

PARADE BEGINS at Colorado St., down Nevada Hwy. to Fifth St., to Broadbent Memorial Park at Avenue B & 5th St.

*New Water Zone - The only location for water play on the parade route starts at Ave A to Ave B & Ave B to the end of the parade at 6th Street. If you want to engage in water play, you MUST be at this location. No water play will be allowed at any other location on the parade route.  ****NO WATER BALLOONS ALLOWED****

9:05 am

FLYOVER by the Boulder City Veteran's Flying Group

10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Located at 1301 5th St.
Food, drinks & games
Presented by non-profit groups

11:00 am

Flag Raising & National Anthem
Presentation of parade trophies & greetings by dignitaries

11:30 am


12:00 pm

COIN TOSS at the Pool (admission: price to the pool)
Games & Contests
Sponsored by the Boulder City Parks & Recreation Department

1:00 pm

Sponsored by the Boulder City Parks & Recreation Department


Located at 1650 Buchanan Blvd
$10 Parking


Live Music, DJ Mike Pacini, Food, Games & Water Park



Fireworks Festivities - Veteran's Memorial Park - 6pm
Visit the Boulder Dam Damboree online

Downtown Henderson Fourth of July fireworks & celebration

Saturday, July 4, 2015
Mission Hills Park
551 E. Mission Dr.
6pm to 9:15pm

Celebrate Independence Day in Henderson with great live entertainment and the time-honored traditional fireworks display! Pack your favorite blanket and come out and enjoy a night of family fun and concessions. Local high school clubs and groups will be selling hot dogs, hamburgers, sno-cones and ice-cream, with all proceeds benefiting the school. Spend your July 4th holiday with us!

9:00  Fireworks Show!

Celebrate the 4th of July with the Phil at Symphony Park

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts

361 Symphony Park Drive

4:00 pm- 10:00 pm

There will be live music, entertainment and food and drink vendors. The Las Vegas Philharmonic Pops will perform a concert inside Reynolds Hall at 7:30 pm that will be simulcast in the park.  Entry to the park costs between $5-$10 and the concert is an additional $25-$75 but includes access to parking.

For tickets or information, call 749-2000 or visit

9:00 pm Fireworks Show!

Stars, Stripes & Sparks

Saturday, July 4th,

Knickerbocker Park

10695 Dorrell Lane

The Independence Day event kicks off with live music, contests and family activities at 6 p.m. Admission is free. Donations of new or gently used books will be accepted to benefit Spread the Word Nevada. For more information, call 216-2020.

9:15 pm Fireworks Show! 

Caesars July 4th Fireworks
Date: Saturday, July 4, 2015
Place: Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV

As part of Caesars Palace July 4th Celebration, on July 4, 2014 Caesars Palace Las Vegas, will have an Independence Day fireworks display. Fireworks by Grucci will be shot from the hotel's Roman Tower beginning at 9:15 p.m. The best views will be from the Las Vegas Strip at the front fountains of Caesars Palace.

Fun on the Fourth at the Stratosphere
Date: Sat, July 4, 2015
Location: Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, Las Vegas, NV

This year, The Stratosphere Casino Hotel and Tower will present its annual citywide fireworks display and "Independence Pool Party" on Saturday, July 4, 2015. The world-famous Fireworks by Grucci, Inc. will produce a display that will be launched from the Stratosphere's North parking garage and visible anywhere in the Las Vegas Valley. The display will start at 9 p.m.

Station Casinos Independence Day Celebration
Date: Saturday, July 4, 2015
Location: Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spas
2300 Paseo Verde Pkwy, Henderson, NV 89052

Best viewing: Backyard Pool Area

Station Casinos Independence Day Celebration
Date: Saturday, July 4, 2015
Location: Red Rock Casino Resort Spa
11011 W Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89135

Best viewing: Pool area and amphitheater

Station Casinos’ “We Love Locals” July 4th Fireworks Blast

The Station Casinos Las Vegas 2015 fireworks shows will go off on the east and west sides of town at Green Valley Ranch Resort and Red Rock Casino Resort. The fireworks show will last approximately nine-minutes.

Rockets Over the River

Location: Laughlin Riverwalk
July 4th

Times: Dusk / 9:00+ pm
Cost: Free for viewing

Just after dark on Independence Day, Saturday, July 4, the huge 25th annualRockets Over The River fireworks display will be free for public viewing along the entire Laughlin River Walk and your favorite Laughlin hotel.  Typically, this extraordinary display is one of the most spectacular and exciting in the West as the pyrotechnic company shoots its rockets into the dark desert sky and the reflection of each exploding shell shimmers over the swift-moving Colorado  River.  Fabulous patriotic music will be choreographed to the show and simulcast over speakers by Laughlin hotels and local radio stations. You won't want to miss this all-American celebration and breathtaking event!