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An Island in Vegas
Beyond the Las Vegas Strip on the outskirts of downtown is an island brimming with artistic talent, culture, community, and progress. Made entirely out of re-purposed shipping containers and recycled materials, Downtown Container Park is a brand new project that aims to create a safe gathering space for community members and visitors, and encourage creativity, sustainability, relaxation, and fun.
Our journey to Downtown Container Park started on the opposite side of downtown Las Vegas. We parked in one of the many paid parking lots and made our way past the slot machines, clumps of tourists posing with nearly naked ladies, zipliners overhead, and a restaurant that offered free food to people weighing more than 350 pounds. We finally emerged onto Fremont Street and from there, we could see a giant praying mantis standing guard in front of our destination. As we drew closer, we saw that the mantis was made from recycled materials, much like everything else in Container Park. We later learned that the mantis lights up at night, with the help of professional Merritt Pelkey who sends flames shooting from the mantis' antenna.
The park itself is constructed out of 43 re-purposed shipping containers and nearly everything in the park is made out of recycled materials, including playground equipment. Since November 2013, artists, chefs, cocktail geniuses, chocolatiers, musicians, bakers, and other shop owners have moved their businesses into these tiny containers and found creative ways to serve hundreds of visitors every day. A small lawn space toward the end of the park is reserved for movie nights, live music, performances and other community events. When the sun sets and the temperature drops to 99 degrees, community members and visitors emerge from the air conditioning and enjoy the outdoor space at Container Park. With beer and wine allowed outside of the restaurants and cocktail bars, many visitors find a comfortable spot at a table or on the lawn and enjoy the music or the sounds of children playing at the playground.
My friend Jackie Logan and I perused the galleries and shops and stopped for a whiskey smash at Oak and Ivy. "I really feel that Container Park is the beginning of something great," Jackie said. "You look around the rest of downtown and you can see that it has been stuck in the same materialistic mindset for years, but this park is the first sign of progressive thinking and community engagement. Just think, if projects like this one keep popping up, in 10 years downtown might not look anything like it does now. It might be community focused, sustainable and even more attractive to visitors."
For the next few hours, we investigated the other shops, purchased fairly priced items and snacked on paninis and wraps until we had to pull ourselves away and head home. If you aren't a fan of the typical Las Vegas scene or you are in the mood for something incredible, make a trip to Downtown Container Park. It will change your outlook on Vegas.