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Tropicana Vegas employees reflect on decades of memories after closure

Together, former Tropicana workers Julio, Michael and John have witnessed some memorable moments and find solace in reminiscing about the past.
Tropicana Vegas employees reflect on decades of memories after closure
Posted at 9:12 AM, Apr 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 10:12:24-04

Tropicana Las Vegas, an iconic casino that holds more than six decades of memories, has given three Las Vegans the gift of friendship.

For Julio San Pedro, originally from Cuba, the Tropicana became his home when he started working there at the age of 17 in 1971, making him the second-longest-serving employee. He began as a busboy and attributes his long tenure to the sense of family at the hotel, where coworkers shared life's experiences together, from raising families to experiencing major life events.

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San Pedro's friendships at the Tropicana include his partner Michael and friend John, whom he met while working banquets at the hotel. John, who started at the Tropicana in his 20s and is now in his 60s, reflects on the shared experiences with coworkers over the years.

"You experience so much of life and it's shared by the people that you work side-by-side with all of those years," he said.

Michael, who used to perform in shows over 40 years ago, finds solace in reminiscing about the past, often visiting the showroom where he once performed.

"I used to just walk over to the showroom every once in a while and just open the doors to the theater and just look and reminisce," he said.

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Together, this trio has witnessed memorable moments, including meeting Elvis, President Clinton and even Liza Minnelli. They have collected keepsakes, like a program from the 1982-1983 Folies Bergère show, preserving their memories of the Tropicana's glamorous past.

As the Tropicana prepares to be demolished, Julio, Michael and John are looking forward to some rest. However, their bond remains strong, with plans to go on a cruise together, keeping in touch and ensuring that their connection forged at the Tropicana will endure.

"After the closing, the banquet coworkers all plan to go on a cruise which we already booked, so we [will] still [be] in touch. It's not over for us. We all have our numbers and we always keep in touch," San Pedro said.

This story was originally published by Isabella Martin at Scripps News Las Vegas.


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