Retiring Sen. Richard Bryan took the microphone at the front of the Carson Nugget ballroom Saturday, thanking hundreds for coming to the free chili feed he and wife, Bonnie, have sponsored for 19 consecutive Nevada Days.
The first feed was during then-Nevada Attorney General Bryan's successful campaign for governor in 1982 and became a traditional get together as Bryan went on the governor's post, then the U.S. Senate seat in 1988.
But Bryan has no more campaigning ahead, no more voters he needs to woo.
"So I'm asking all of you, taking a poll," Bryan told the crowd Saturday. "Should we do this again, make it 20 years?"
The answer was a resounding "Yes" from the crowd and Bryan invited them all back next Nevada Day.
Bryan used the opportunity to introduce "my two reasons for deciding not to run for re-election:" grandsons Connor Bryan, 8 months, the son of Richard Bryan Jr. and Karen Bryan, and Will Hart, 14 months, the son of Leslie Bryan Hart and Joe Hart.
The senator also called forward for recognition, not only his current staff, but those of his former employees from 22 years of elective office who were able to attend the feed. Between family and staffers, the Bryan contingent neared two dozen.
Then the senator got a little recognition himself. An appreciation award from the Carson River Water Subconservancy District was presented by Charles Lawson, a district representative from Lyon County.
The award was topped by a glass water drop filled with blue water, which Lawson explained had multiple significance.
"First, you'll notice the drop is not quite full. That symbolizes Nevada, which does not have quite as much water as she needs," Lawson said. "And the water is blue. Now, the Douglas County members objected to that, because they say their water is so clear. But the Lyon County members are wishing their water is this clear."
Bryan served as Grand Marshal of the 2000 Nevada Day parade. As he and his wife rode in the maroon 1946 Ford convertible, he wore the seven-pointed parade marshal's badge made especially for the occasion.