IT IS NEVADA DAY, the grandest 72-hour day of our year, and the great Nevada Day Parade in Carson City on Saturday is its most splendid expression, a gaudy 3-hour procession of floats, bands and marching groups, heart-felt and authentic.
The parade began months before of course, and is the climax of elaborate planning and preparation. Volunteers mark off the staging points for the 200 parade entries before sunrise, with anxious looks up into the crack of dawn. Will it be sun today or snow? Sun!
We only have 15 miles to Carson City, other parade-goers have been on the road for hours before we even set out. It’s full day as we drive down into Eagle Valley from the east. Ahead of us bright dots are pinned to the sky: a flight of balloons suspended in the crisp morning air.
Early arrivals in Carson City are at the Governor’s Mansion for a pancake breakfast provided by Carson City’s Republican women. Spectators have already unpacked their camp chairs and staked out places on the curb, kids are running around, vendors are setting up their counters while their pots and pans and grills heat up. Because traditional Nevada Day is October 31, many people are wearing their Halloween costumes even though Nevada Day is only sometimes on the 31st now; it’s the last Friday in October whatever the date, and the parade is the next day.
Promptly and proudly at 10 am the parade begins with a rumble as a phalanx of helmeted motorcycle officers rolls south on Carson Street, drawing the rest of the entries into line behind them, one line at a time out of their side streets into the procession. Here comes Dean Heller on horseback! A whole posse of other officials and political figures and figurines come trooping after him, and the parade is on.
After the candidates the entries are so varied it’s hard to establish that many separate categories. A Senior Care Center. An Indian Princess. Carson City. Duckwater Shoshone Tribe. Carson Lanes Family Fun Center. The Bunny Ranch Brothel float followed The Nevada Rainbow Girls and The Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates, and was followed in turn by the Northern Nevada Dental Hygiene Association.
The White Pine County School bands burst into music at the head of the parade and there were other bands both afoot and afloat scattered along its length. There was a small squadron of Model A’s, some rodeo queens from Fernley, the Nevada Silver Tappers and there were these. . . .
Parade Entry #106 was the Rural Nevada Democrats. What? All 6 of them?
The parade was more than the floats and the marchers and the bands and the horses, it was the beautiful day, the trees aflame in the sun, the families, the traditions, the beer, the burgers, the ting-ting-ting of the single jacks driving into granite, the memories. It is pleasing to think the spirit of the state was held in suspension within that clear clean air just in from the mountains, and maybe for a little while it was.
Johnny Gunn was Master of Ceremonies at the World Championship Single Jack Drilling Contest, and he says enthusiasm for the — what? Sport? Hobby? — pastime is as strong as ever. “The crowds have been large and very active for many years, including this year. There was some fear that the UNR Homecoming football game with UNLV would take away, but if it did, I couldn’t tell. All of our competitors were on hand, and the crowd was very large.”
Johnny is getting things set up for the drilling competition as the parade is getting started. “I can hear the parade and that’s about it,” he said. And while the paraders are prancing and dancing, marching and lurching south down Carson Street, inside the State Museum Ken Hopple begins demonstrating the old Coin Press No.1 by making 1-oz silver Sesquicentennial medallions that had been sold in advance, with a second session after the parade ended. The silver was supplied by Coeur Mining’s Rochester mine. A limited number of medallions is still available here.
And when the parade ended, yet another event began, this one in the amphitheater to the south of the capitol: the Beard Contest. This is a big batch of eye-candy as every style of whiskerino is represented, from the Edwardian dandy to the visigoth. Eight different categories of beard are recognized by the judges, and each category had numerous candidates.
After eight champions (and second and third prize winners too) have been selected, the Grand Finale is a count of beards from Carson City vs those from Virginia City; Carson City won in a landslide, even though some of their men had simply postponed shaving that morning. But is that fair? Carson City is a big city full of hairy men, while Virginia City is much smaller, and it’s at a much higher altitude where beards are harder to grow. Have a look:
My suggestion for Virginia City: more Sikhs.
The State Museums offered free admission, there were tours of the Governor’s Mansion, there was a Pow Wow and a Chili Feed plus all the street vendors and all the bars and restaurants — you could say Carson City gave 100% and the weather made it all pay off.
But it might not have been the best time to come.
Carson City on Nevada Day looks pretty much like Carson City always does on Nevada Day, but Carson City on an ordinary day shows some interesting new developments. The downtown bars and restaurants are almost a District. Carson City almost has a Scene. And there are about 20 lodgings properties now, even without the Ormsby House being quiiiiite ready, so the town can accommodate visitors. Something is percolating here.
What they’re saying about us: The NY Times visits Reno’s mid-town.
In Lieu of a Jail
M.J. Spaulding, Hornsilver’s deputy sheriff, met his first victim this week. The unruly citizen had been mixing with John Barleycorn, and needed detention. In the absence of a jail, Mr. Spaulding handcuffed the citizen to the real wheel of a huge freight wagon, where the party remained until he was able to more thoroughly understand himself.
Quick notes from beyond the mountains: In every corner of the state, artists paint, weld, sculpt and make art in all genres and for decades, Eureka’s Wally Cuchine has been collecting it, amassing what is likely the world’s most comprehensive collection of Nevada artwork. A traveling exhibit of 35 works from Cuchine’s collection, titled “Wally’s World: The Loneliest Art Collection in Nevada,” is at the Beatty Museum and Historical Society through January, 2014. Cuchine will give a talk Nov. 9 at 1pm . . .
We Made the Colbert Report
Virginia City‘s C Street has received the American Planning Association’s “10 Greatest Streets” Award, and in true Virginia City
spirit they’re having a party to celebrate. Come one, come all to the Virginia City Visitors Center at the Crystal Bar on Friday, November 1 from 4 – 6 pm for appetizers, beverages and congratulations all around. Questions? Call 775-847-1144 . . . The 12th Annual Chukar Tournament & Feed in Battle Mountain will be held Saturday November 9, and as we were arranging the electrons for this report there were still a few tickets left for the hunt which takes place from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, November 9 . . . In Mexican tradition, early November is a time to honor the dead with a mix of reverence and humor, respect and celebration. At the Life In Death Festival at the Winchester Cultural Center in Las Vegas, learn the traditional Day of the Dead crafts. There’s also an art exhibit and children’s activities . . . The 120-acre Craig Ranch Regional Park at 628 W. Craig Road in North Las Vegas is finally open. It took more than 10 years to transform the Craig Ranch Golf Course into playgrounds, athletic fields, a community garden, a skate park and broad lawns dotted with ponds and shaded by trees. See the video . . .
Mmmmm, bacon: on November 9 an event called the World Food Championships will stage the Ultimate Bacon Experience in downtown Las Vegas in two sessions, from 1-3 pm and 4-6 pm on Saturday, Nov. 9, including a specialty bacon cocktail if you buy your ticket ($40) online. Oh, and they’re looking for judges to award the prizes. (Imagine being a judge in a bacon cook-off!) Other competition categories include barbecue, chili, burgers, sandwiches, and desserts . . . Reno plein air painter Erik Holland will be out in all weather over the next week painting some of the iconic features of Virginia City, Gold Hill, Silver City, Carson City and Reno for an upcoming reception, show and sale. The event is called “Art in the Afternoon” and will take place at the Jones Mansion in Gold Hill on November 9 and 10. Details at www.artshowtoday.net . . . Great Basin National Park has reopened. The park was closed Oct. 1 due to the government shutdown and Baker area businesses saw declines in revenue during the closure. Some camping facilities are open without water. Snow has fallen at higher altitudes. Read all about it . . . Overheard at Plan B in Carson City, “The saying is that if the rich could hire someone else to die for them, the poor would make a wonderful living. But in fact isn’t this what wars are? Minus the ‘wonderful living’ of course.”
Parting Shot — I shot this image with a Kodak “Fun Saver Panoramic 35” disposable camera that I re-load over and over with B&W film. On this particular day we were exploring the Diamond Valley, which is immediately north of Eureka, Nevada, where we live. Trish sat in the car as I photographed my way down the dirt track leading to the windmill. I have an unfortunate habit of looking through the viewfinder and not watching my feet. As I viewed the windmill through the camera and moved around to get the composition the way I liked, I could hear the crunch of the rocks of the desert floor beneath me, but, one of the steps went squish! It turns out I was standing on a very angry coiled up rattle snake with one foot. I stared down at it as it was striking at my boot. Trish said I looked just like a caricature in a cartoon, I went straight up and then off to one side
I ran back to the truck to share with Trish what had just happened, grabbing a digital camera with a long lens on it. When we got back to the scene of the crime we found an even more angry snake all coiled up and rattling.
— Deon Reynolds, Eureka Nevada