A DRAW FOR THE CURIOUS TO THE STRANGE

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<p>The writer, right, talks with some costumed Life Is Beautiful festival goers.</p>

The beauty of festivals is that it gathers all kinds of interesting, curious and strange people, especially if it falls the weekend before Halloween. Downtown was visited by both locals and visitors this past weekend ready to jump start the first Life is Beautiful festival.

Saturday afternoon, in a circle on the grass sat a lion, a leprechaun, a unicorn, and a dragon.

“I don’t know why more people don’t dress up,” says San Francisco native Martin Himpler, 24, through his lion mask. “It’s a time have fun and stand out! We came a long way to see the Alabama Shakes and Pretty Lights. We’re going to see them in style.”

While many traveled some distance to see their favorite bands, others were excited to return downtown and witness the transformation. Originally from Los Angeles, Lawrence Granada, 27, has seen similar renovations before.

“They do this in Los Angeles,” Granada said. “They take used, empty lots and they revitalize it.”

Granada has been living in Las Vegas for 15 months and is still trying to get used to the idea of living in a desert.

“I’m not going to lie, I miss (Los Angeles), but it’s great what Vegas is trying to do,” he said. “I’m a festival goer… and this will be good for business and the economy.”

Local Omer Satter, 35, lived a short bike ride away from the downtown festival grounds, which stretched five blocks west from Las Vegas Boulevard to 10th Street along Fremont Street, and four blocks from Carson Avenue to Interstate 15. He came with his girlfriend to see what the festival was all about.

“We haven’t seen downtown change in the past couple years. We’re excited about it,” Satter said from the comfort of his chair that resided in the middle of the street. Satter had a few friends that were featured gallery artists and came to support them. “Years ago this change would be unfathomable,” he said. “We love this city and it’s great (Las Vegas) is trying to change its image by doing something like this.”

A lot of locals were enthralled with the newfound energy bringing downtown to life, however, there were others that did not notice a difference. And many attendees didn’t get caught up in the costume spirit, either.

Somewhere, submerged in the crowd of Passion Pit’s performance on Sunday night, danced cousins Daniel Grayson, 25, and Henry Seckler, 20. Grayson, who is stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, dressed as superhero-sidekick Robin while Seckler wore regular shorts and a shirt. Visiting from Dallas, Seckler did not understand the excitement of dressing up and refused to accompany his cousin as Batman. “I’m not into festivals,” says Seckler. “I’m having fun, but it’s just not my thing.”

When asked about freshly painted murals plastered alongside the old buildings, Grayson says, “I thought those painting were always there,” adding “I didn’t really notice any changes. I honestly just wanted see the bands with my cousin.”

Another local attendee, 22-year-old Katie Lervee, 22, felt entirely overwhelmed by the experience. “It was my first festival,” she says. “I did things I thought I would never do. I made friends with complete strangers, I danced in a mosh pit, I witnessed a guy in a carrot suit crowd surf to front stage… I practically cried at the end of The Killers’ performance.” Lervee, a short, petite girl clutched at her backpack straps as she began to tear up. “I know this sounds cliché, but this festival really was beautiful.” CL