It's almost midnight when Ludo Gubbels and Riley Rutten, both from the Netherlands, spy a white Mustang convertible idling in a drive-through...
LAS VEGAS — It’s almost midnight when Ludo Gubbels and Riley Rutten, both from the Netherlands, spy a white Mustang convertible idling in a drive-through lane.
But the man and woman in the Mustang aren’t waiting for burgers. They’re waiting to exchange rings.
The Dutch tourists stop, mosey over under the blue celestial “Tunnel of Love” canopy at the Little White Wedding Chapel and begin snapping pictures.
“We have never seen it before,” Rutten said, eyes widening as the minister pops his head out the window and begins the ceremony. “In Europe, it’s not common.”
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It’s not common in the U.S. either. But in Vegas, you can get married 24 hours a day at some chapels, even in a drive-through, and it’s just business as usual. It’s easy to guess that you can gamble all night and belly up to bars with no last call. That’s expected.
But Vegas is also a place where you can pick up dry cleaning, get a haircut, send flowers, see a doctor, get a new set of tires, any time, day or night. In some ways, things have gotten tame: The 24-hour car dealership now closes part of the night, and the homebuilder who used to show model homes all night is gone.
But for the most part, there is no sense of time in Las Vegas, at least not in the middle of the night. No clocks inside casinos, no windows to remind gamblers dawn has broken. This is the land of all-nighters and swing shift workers who have to get things done.
Gyms are packed in the early morning, and construction projects go on when most people should be sleeping.
“It’s been nonstop. We’re from a small town. By 2 a.m. the whole town shuts down,” said Mike Santangelo, 32, of Newcastle, Pa., as he took in a view of the Strip from the inside of the Vegas Eiffel Tower. Tourists can do that as late as 1 a.m., something they can’t do at the real thing.
And if you ever run out of money or need a TV in the middle of the night, the downtown Pawn Place is a must. It never closes.
“They’ll wanna hawk something and go back (gambling),” employee Loren Fuller said from the walk-up night window. “Some guy tried to pawn double-D batteries.”
Across town, the lanes at the Gold Coast’s bowling alley are still filling up at almost 1 a.m., one of several all-night bowling alleys in town.
And what would a Vegas night be without Elvis? Inside the Imperial Palace, the King is dealing cards at a blackjack table, black sideburns and all. Between hands, he’ll jump up on a mini stage and belt out a tune or two, along with fellow dealers Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and other impersonators.
It may seem strange, viewing magnificent flowers in the Bellagio Conservatory in the middle of the night, or dropping off dry cleaning an hour before dawn. But, hey … this is Vegas, baby.