Judy Thorburn | Editor in Chief | Writer | ColumnistJudy Thorburn's 'Vegas Happenings' column

By Judy Thorburn This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - Las Vegas Round The Clock

Owner/Editor in Chief/writer - The Flick Chicks
Director of Communications - Nevada Film Alliance

Fremont Street Experience Presents Opportunity Village With a Check for $17,636 Raised at SlotZilla Charity Challenge

Fremont Street Experience hosted a SlotZilla Charity Challenge to benefit Opportunity Village following the 12th annual Las Vegas Great Santa Run on Saturday, December 3. From 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. 100% of SlotZilla revenue from flights on the lower Zipline and upper Zoomline went to Opportunity Village. Fremont Street Experience’s Chief Marketing Officer, Paul McGuire, presented Opportunity Village a check for $17,636 on Monday, December 12.

“Since 1954, Opportunity Village has set the precedent for offering programs and services to those in the community with intellectual disabilities and we always look forward to hosting one of its largest annual events, the Las Vegas Great Santa Run,” said Paul McGuire, Chief Marketing Officer of Fremont Street Experience. “We love seeing thousands of people and pets dressed in their best Santa gear in support of an organization that has helped improve the lives of so many individuals in our community.

Kevin Lepine Celebrated One Year Anniversary of “Hypnosis Unleashed” at Binion's Horseshoe

Kevin Lepine celebrated the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of his show “HYPNOSIS UNLEASHED” at Binion's Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas on Wednesday evening, December 7. Kevin, a certified hypnotherapist, entertains audiences six nights a week with his mix of stand-up comedy, sharp wit, and a dose of compassion. Of course, there could be no ”hypnosis” show without a number of audience volunteers who are willing and eager to come up on stage, be put at ease, and into a hypnotic state, where all their inhibitions go by the wayside. Each show is different based on changing audiences and volunteers, so you never know what is in store or how a volunteer will behave when given Kevin's hypnotic suggestion. One thing is for sure, everyone is guaranteed to have a fun time.

Kevin Lepine 2144
Kevin Lepine
Photo credit: Stephen Thorburn

Along with running the show, Kevin is a Founder of Hypnosis Helps, a charity that collaborates with local hypnotists. Last year they raised enough money to supply the entire Theriot Elementary school with uniform shirts, winter coats and individual gifts from their Christmas lists. Lepine cites giving back to the community as a major priority and a personal joy. Partial proceeds from all of the merchandise sold from Hypnosis Unleashed are donated to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

You can see Hypnosis Unleashed Tuesdays through Sundays at 8:30 p.m. at Binions in the Lepine-Goldman Theater. Recommended for ages 18 and up.

Check out Dianne Davis' interview with Kevin Lepine in this week's edition of her column “Views of Vegas”.

Additional recent and upcoming “happenings” in and around Las Vegas include:

Joey Vanas, co-founder of Life is beautiful Festival, Executive Director of First Friday Foundation and former president of The Las Vegas Arts District has taken on a new role as a member of the Blind community and created an astounding fundraising campaign “MINUS EYES”,” which is rapidly gaining attention. Working with the BLIND CENTER OF NEVADA, immersed himself into a world without sight. Since Dec. 1, 2016, Vanas has been blindfolded and intends to stay that way until Dec. 31. During this time he has become a member of the Blind Center working on management of the Broken Spectacles, an uplifting organic band based out of The Blind Center, and is taking music lessons from Gus, the band leader, while helping prepare the band for an upcoming Americas Got Talent audition.

“I’m really grateful for the awareness Joey is bringing to the Blind Center. The hardest part about going blind is that society perceives you as weak, and you start to believe that you are weak. The Blind Center is place that gives you hope and hope is the most important thing. I don't think you can put a price on hope. Believe me when I tell you every dollar, nickel or dime you donate will be impactful in the lives of many people. I strongly encourage you to support this cause.” said Gus.

“I created the Minus-Eyes project for two reasons, number one, a long standing desire to help the visually impaired community and two, a love and appreciation of music and desire to help musicians along their path. When I visited the Blind Center for the first time, I was blown away by the work they’re doing and fell in love with the Broken Spectacles. It seemed like a perfect opportunity. In order to be of help, I wanted to truly understand what people go through when they lose their sight and document it to bring awareness to this cause.” says Vanas.

All funds raised will go directly to the Blind Center programs and documentation of this project. To show support visit gofundme.com/minus-eyes and minuseyes.com

Thanks to the 23rd Annual “HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS” program, Walker Furniture began furniture deliveries on Thursday, Dec. 15 to the 30 families in need that will be receiving an entire houseful of new furniture.  Helping Hands of Vegas Valley, a local nonprofit organization  servicing seniors with free assistive services, read and verified the thousands of nomination letters received by teachers, students, health care professionals, social service workers, clergy, friends, neighbors, and family members including children and grandchildren, describing the prospective recipient’s situation. An Executive Committee comprised of Mayor Carolyn Goodman, other community leaders and local media personalities made the final selection for the 30 recipients.
Among this year’s recipients are: a former Shade Tree shelter mother of six who moved into an apartment with no furniture; permanently disabled veteran with a brain cyst, wife as caretaker and daughter in school; mother whose two daughters tragically died and is raising her granddaughter in an apartment with no furniture; and former dental assistant and loving mother with stage 5 Lupus and is too ill to work and raising her daughters.
Larry Alterwitz, CEO of Walker Furniture is always pleased to start the holiday spirit of giving with the Home For The Holidays program knowing the holidays will be a little brighter for these families. Home For The Holidays is the largest annual charitable endeavor for Walker Furniture, which has a long history of contributing to worthwhile community causes. The program began in1994 with deliveries to 12 families.  Other partners include Star Nursery providing a holiday tree to each of the 30 families and the Las Vegas Rescue Mission supplying food and toys.

As part of Hard Rock’s HARD ROCK HEALS FOUNDATION, a global charity which aims to improve lives through the power of music, HARD ROCK CAFE LAS VEGAS STRIP was proud to give the gift of  music this holiday season, to the MANUEL CORTEZ ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHOIR. On Friday afternoon, December 16, Hard Rock Cafe’s management and staff presented the Choir with a CHECK FOR $2,000 as well as a DONATION OF MUSIC INSTRUMENTS they had been collecting as part of a drive to help support the school’s music program, including 9 guitars, 4 violins and 2 cymbals. Hard Rock also put together holiday gift bags with merchandise and toys for each of the students, treated them to lunch and gave them a private tour of the restaurant’s vast music memorabilia collection. Local rocker and frequent Hard Rock Live performer Brent Muscat even brought a guitar to donate!  After receiving the donation, the Cortez Elementary Choir performed a short collection of holiday favorites for staff and guests.

HRCLVS Brent Muscat guitar donation 121516
HRCLVS Brent Muscat guitar donation
Photo credit: Edison Graff/Stardust Fallout Media

HRCLVS Cortez Elementary Choir donation 121516
HRCLVS Cortez Elementary Choir donation
Photo credit: Edison Graff/Stardust Fallout Media

HRCLVS Cortez Elementary Choir performs 121516
HRCLVS Cortez Elementary Choir performs
Photo credit: Edison Graff/Stardust Fallout Media

A star-studded holiday benefit show, CHRISTMAS CROONER, will be held inside the renowned Westgate International Theater at Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on Sunday, December 18, at 3 p.m. Christmas Crooner will feature performances from “Million Dollar Quartet” star Marc D. Donovan and special guests, including the Swing City Dolls, Clint Holmes, Chris Phillips, Michelle Johnson, Graham Fenton and Justin Shandor, among others. All proceeds from the event will be donated directly to FOSTER CHANGE, a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides support, resources and empowerment for foster, kinship, and adoptive families of Southern Nevada. Tickets are $34.75 for Rear Orchestra, $49.75 for Mid Orchestra and $64.75for Front Orchestra. All tickets include taxes and fees and proceeds will be donated directly to Foster Change. Tickets can be purchased at the Westgate Box Office. Guests must be five years or older.

XCYCLE Las Vegas will host the ‘JINGLE BELL RIDE’ at BEER PARK, located at Paris Las Vegas, to benefit Toys for Tots beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Dozens of riders wearing Santa hats, jingle bells and reindeer antler headbands will participate in a 45-minute ride set to holiday music, timed to enjoy a stunning Las Vegas Strip at sunset. XCYCLE owner and instructor, Jen Barnet, will lead the riders on a fun, energetic ride, in keeping with the classes at the innovative cycle studio, which is located in Boca Park. XCYCLE will provide bikes, shoes and necessary instruction for new riders, although cycling experience is recommended. Participants in the fun, high-energy holiday class will bring a new or unwrapped toy to donate for Toys for Tots, an organization run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that collects and distributes toys to underprivileged children for the holiday season. BEER PARK, which is celebrating a “12 Days of Christmas” full of holiday movies and activities, will quench riders’ thirsts after the ride with two-for-one beers for participants to share the holiday spirit.

Reservations are required for the ‘Jingle Bell Ride’ and will be available to a limited number of participants. To make a reservation, riders may visit www.xcyclelv.com, or email event director, Gabby Robillard, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. XCYCLE is also collecting donations for Three Square Food Bank through Thursday, Dec. 29, with the opportunity for members to win show tickets and more.

'Celebrity Magician' MURRAY presents his fundraising variety show “MURRAY'S FAMILY MAGICAL HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR”, 7 pm December 21, inside the Starbright Theatre in Summerlin to benefit 'Friends For Life Humane Society' a No-Kill Shelter in Nevada where Murray has personally rescued 3 Chihuahuas to date. Other charities that will benefit this year will be Rockin' 4 Rescues along with Vegas Rock Dog.  The lineup of Las Vegas entertainers who will take part in this fundraiser include Lefty and April - Murray's cast members, along with DJ JBRAY playing preshow tunes, vocalist Kaci Machacyk, comedian Lenny Windsor,  Reckless in Vegas musician/singer Michael Shapiro, Zowie Bowie, juggler Steve August, and magicians Jarrett & Raja. The evening's festivities will also include raffles, donation boxes and over $1000 in prizes to bid on. Profits from the event will be split between Friends For Life Humane Society and Rockin' 4 Rescues. Murray SawChuck and Samantha Radcliffe owner of Vegas Rock Dog are the show's co-organizers.. To purchase tickets please go to www.murraymagic.com or call (702) 240-1301

THE CONTINENTAL TIRE LAS VEGAS CLASSIC, an annual action-packed NCAA basketball tournament, will return to the Orleans Arena Dec. 22 and 23, bringing teams from University of Southern California, University of Wyoming, Depaul, Missouri State, Southeast Missouri State, Troy University, Chicago State and Cornell. Each team will play four games – the first two at campus sites and the final two at the Orleans Arena. The first game of the tournament begins at noon both days. Two-day ticket packages are available from $50 plus taxes and fees, and can be purchased  in-person at the gift shops inside The Orleans, Suncoast, Gold Coast and Sam’s Town. Tickets may also be purchased the day of the game (depending on availability) at the venue box office.

Celebrity sightings:

Monday, December 12...

Supermodel and TV host Heidi Klum visited Mystère by Cirque du Soleil at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. With help from a few artists, the blonde beauty tried her hand at climbing the iconic Chinese Poles featured in the spectacular production. She also enjoyed the performance and a special meet-and-greet with cast members from the show.

Heidi Klum tries her hand at climbing the iconic Chinese Poles featured in Mystere
Heidi Klum tries her hand at climbing the iconic Chinese Poles featured in Mystere
Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

Heidi Klum at Mystere by Cirque du Soleil Dec. 12 2016 2
Heidi Klum at Mystere by Cirque du Soleil
Photo courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

Saturday, December 10...

Comedian and actor Kevin Hart celebrated the wrapping of his upcoming film “Jumanji” in Vegas with a group of friends at several TAO Group venues. Saturday afternoon the group enjoyed a cabana at Marquee Dayclub Dome in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, followed by dinner downstairs at Beauty and Essex, a dancefloor table at TAO Nightclub in The Venetian and a late night stop at Marquee Nightclub. Hart spent the entire day celebrating and toasting with friends and was seen dancing to Bruno Mars’ "24K Magic".

Also at Beauty & Essex in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas was actor Billy Burke enjoying dinner with friends.

At TAO Nightclub was Toronto Blue Jays player Marco Estrada.

Also in the crowd at TAO Nightclub was “Grey’s Anatomy” star Jason George who took in the party from a separate VIP booth while Eric Dlux manned the decks.

Friday, December 9...

Long-time college basketball commentator Dick Vitale, also known as “Dickie V,” dined at The Palm Restaurant of Las Vegas inside The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. The well-known ESPN analyst was spotted grabbing a quick bite to eat with his wife after attending the Reba McEntire concert that took place on property earlier that evening. The duo was met by The Palm’s General Manager who showed the couple the restaurant’s famous caricatures and art installations before posing for a quick photo together.


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