Vibrant Chinese lions bounced to thumping drums and splashing cymbals in a ceremony held at the entrance of the Lucky Dragon on Saturday afternoon.
The lively presentation — which also included a ribbon cutting, a Chinese dragon and firecrackers — marked the Asian-themed casino's grand opening.
Without warning, fireworks began to blaze, and the hazy display peaked with three loud bursts and a drizzle of red confetti. Dozens of smiling visitors who packed the area near the entrance raised their cellphones to try to capture the festivities.
While those in attendance strolled in, the dragon and lions made a longer and more symbolic entrance that encompassed an offering of oranges. The characters danced and stalled at the doors, seemingly requesting permission to enter.
And they paraded indoors — through the casino and at least one restaurant, while patrons gambled, ate and drank — encountering offerings of lettuce heads and red envelopes that were hanging from several places.
"I like the excitement: very colorful, lots of energy," Larry Neal said from inside the casino.
The property reminds him of Hong Kong, which he's visited.
On Saturday, Neal was looking forward to eating, gambling and having a drink, he said.
Paul Santillana said he liked the atmosphere.
"It's actually really nice," he said.
He joked that his return to the casino would be determined by how much money he wins gambling.
"The location is funny, but I love it. I love the culture," Mat Ferrer said, adding that not many local casinos have an Asian theme.
That’s how the Lucky Dragon was constructed. It’s the “first casino-resort designed from the ground up to create an authentic Asian cultural and gaming experience,” according to the property. The theme extends to the resort, its eateries and bars. About 75 percent of the frontline staff speaks an Asian dialect.
The positive feedback about the property since its soft opening two weeks ago has been overwhelming, said Matt Harkness, the Lucky Dragon’s general manager.
“We invite more people to come and see this beautiful property," he said.
About any upcoming dragon ceremonies, Harkness responded: “I think that we will have a very exciting Chinese Lunar New Year when it comes up (Jan. 28).”