LAS VEGAS -- With Southern Nevadans eagerly awaiting the opportunity to celebrate St. Patrick's Day on Sunday, now is a good time to pay homage to all that is green about the Las Vegas Valley.
This extends far beyond the green beer one will drink at the local pub, or the green clothes one is obligated to wear to avoid getting pinched. And sorry golfers, this goes far beyond green fees and achieving greens in regulation.
Whenever friends or relatives who live out of town scoff at the possibility that a desert community can have anything green, challenge them with this list of eight entries, provided in alphabetical order.
1. Cashman Field -- The freshly mowed grass in the downtown minor league baseball facility will be put to the test again this season by the Las Vegas 51s, who will be affiliated for the first time with Major League Baseball's New York Mets. It so happens that two other major league franchises, the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, will be squaring off at Cashman Field this weekend for two Spring Training games. The 9,334-seat stadium has hosted professional baseball since 1983.
2. City of Las Vegas Green Building Program -- Created in 2006, the program started out as an effort to benefit the environment through construction of energy-efficient public buildings. But the program was expanded in 2009 to also encourage development of energy-saving homes and businesses. After incentives such as energy retrofit rebates were added in 2010, City Manager Elizabeth Fretwell wrote that the program "makes green building even more accessible to homeowners and developers in an effort to help create jobs for our friends and neighbors, reduce energy waste, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
3. Green Valley -- This 8,400-acre master planned community in Henderson, developed by American Nevada Corp., is second only to Summerlin in size within the valley. Green Valley is a major reason Henderson is Nevada's second largest city, trailing only Las Vegas. Green Valley has also spawned many namesakes, including Green Valley Parkway, Green Valley High School and the Green Valley Ranch resort.
4. Las Vegas Irish Rugby Football Club -- According to its website, which appropriately is splashed in green, the Las Vegas Irish are a mighty tough side. The team crushed a squad from Huntington Beach, Calif., 52 to 5 in February to move to five wins and no defeats in its division. Normally, when Las Vegans think of a team trying to make the Sweet 16, they're referring to the men's basketball squad at UNLV. But the Irish can be added to that wish list as they attempt to reach their sport's national Sweet 16 in May.
5. Las Vegas State Tree Nursery -- Located at 9600 Tule Springs Road in Las Vegas, the nursery operated by the Nevada Forestry Division grows more than 100,000 plants annually involving 100 species. Some 95 percent of the plants are grown from seeds or cuttings. The division states on its website that plants are available for sale "to provide locally adapted, affordable trees and shrubs to conserve and enhance Nevada's natural resources through conservation plantings..." The plantings help with erosion control, wildlife habitat, greenbelts, windbreaks and water conservation.
6. Moe Greene -- OK, this is green with an extra ‘e.' But this character, portrayed by actor Alex Rocco in the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1972, "The Godfather," was based on Las Vegas gaming icon Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. The real Bugsy took bullet shots to the head while reading a newspaper in his girlfriend's home in Beverly Hills, Calif. Moe Greene got shot through his glasses in the eye while on his stomach enjoying a massage.
7. Sam Boyd Stadium -- The playing surface of the eastern valley home field for UNLV football has undergone numerous changes but green has remained the color of choice. Built in 1971 with AstroTurf, the stadium got a makeover with the installation of retractable artificial turf known as "Magic Carpet," Natural grass made a four-year appearance from 1999 through 2002 before the stadium received another artificial surface made by TurfTech. Grass, though, occasionally makes cameo appearances, such as for a professional soccer match last year and a rugby tournament in February.
8. The Green Felt Jungle -- Written in 1963 by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ed Reid and Ovid Demaris, this book served as an early expose of the sleazy side of Las Vegas. One version of the cover promises "the truth about Las Vegas where organized crime controls gambling and everything else." The page turner is filled with alleged crimes and political misdeeds, much of it gathered through secret tape recordings.