Tiny town heads to Vegas for vacation

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - December 7, 2008

That's why Las Vegas tourism officials decided to fly nearly half the 350 residents to the desert playground for a five-day getaway and publicity stunt.

Up to 120 people - those who could get off work and were over 21 - will be treated to swanky hotels, fancy restaurants and glitzy shows when they arrive Dec. 13.

It's all free with a catch: They'll be followed around by video cameras for tourism commercials to air early next year.

"It couldn't have come at a better time," said Tanya Davidson, 33. She plans to marry her fiance in a drive-through wedding chapel in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is spending $2.5 million for the trip and marketing campaign. Officials looked at 125 small communities around the nation before settling on the farming and ranching town that has one gas station, one bank, a bar and grill, and few other businesses.

"It really is the quintessential American town," said Doug Finelli, from an advertising agency working on the campaign. "The people are really welcoming, and everyone works really hard. Most people work multiple jobs."

Cranfills Gap, with two stop signs and no traffic lights about 75 miles southwest of Fort Worth, is more than ready for the getaway.

"It'll give people an opportunity to go somewhere they wouldn't have had a chance to go to normally," Mayor David Witte said.

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