STATELINE - Minor floods, torrential rain and snow gave way to a partly starry sky on New Year's Eve at Stateline in Lake Tahoe as tens of thousands of revelers swarmed Highway 50 to ring in 2006.
A week of inclement weather - marked more by rain than snow - did not deter the masses from their migration to the casino corridor, where by day they braved soggy slopes and by night icy roads to join the biggest annual impromptu party at the lake.
"Weather will never slow Tahoe down," said a smiling Greg Pieratt at Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Cantina in Harveys Resort and Casino. He and his fiancée Jenny Dressler drove up from San Diego and met friends from the Bay Area.
Despite the rain, they said they've had a blast snowboarding and then partying at Cabo for the last three nights.
"Everybody knows Tahoe is the place to be on New Year's," Dressler said.
Highway 50 was closed to traffic at 9:15. Casinos boarded up statues and windows, and fenced their entry gardens to keep revelers off, while security guards checked IDs at every door.
Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini said 300 officers from Nevada and California were on hand to keep the peace. In its 30th year, the event is not sponsored or promoted by any casino or chamber of commerce, so the county must foot the bill for extra manpower.
Douglas County spends an extra $5,000 in overtime pay for the night, arresting between 30 and 120 people each New Year for fights, public drunkeness and other minor infractions.
"Right, wrong or indifferent, they are here each year," Pierini said.