Nevada marks 135th birthday

Sunny, blue skies enlivened by the roar of twin F/A-18 Hornets greeted marchers lining up in the four-hour parade Saturday that marked the 135th anniversary of Nevada's entry into the Union.

Thousands of parade watchers lined Carson Street for the parade, bought foot-long hot dogs and beer from local organizations' booths and wandered off to check out hard-rock drillers, a beard contest, a chili feed and other events throughout the community.

The theme was "Steaming into the Millennium," so many of the floats featured fanciful locomotives. And Northern Nevada is probably suffering a shortage of gray-striped engineers' caps, since they were all recruited for the parade.

Everything seemed to run smoothly for the first Nevada Day under the chairmanship of Joe DeLonardo, who headed up the Nevada Day Parade Committee after long-time organizer Ed Blanchard retired last winter. The success of the day's events resulted from the efforts of uncounted volunteers, many of whom measure their service to the Nevada Day celebrations in decades.

Saturday was marked by a number of firsts.

This was the first official three-day weekend in celebration of Nevada Day. Until the 1999 Nevada Legislature made the weekend observance official, Nevada Day fell whatever day of the week was Oct. 31.

That also means today is the first Oct. 31 in recent memory that trick-or-treating will actually occur on Halloween in Carson City. Because the Oct. 31 Nevada Days were always so demanding, the community did its trick-or-treat rounds the night before.

The state Millennium committee kicked off its 15-month observance of the turn of the 20th century, Nevada 2000, with the minting of commemorative silver medallions at the old U.S. Carson City Mint, now the Nevada State Museum. Silver and Bronze medallions will be stamped on original mint coin press until the end of the celebration on Martin Luther King's birthday, Jan. 18, 2001.

2 year old Gavin Kygar with shades and dad Tim Kygar of Reno cheer for passing floats during the Nevada Day parade. Photos by Bill Husa

And a special pyrotechnic Nevada 2000 logo was fired up during the Nevada Day fireworks display at the Ormsby House.

The new outdoor amphitheater in the plaza between the Capitol, the Nevada Legislature and the Nevada Supreme Court was dedicated after the parade with performances by local bands. The Capitol City Band under the direction of Richard Doede marked the event with a performance of marching and big band favorites.

Then the Eagle Valley Middle School Band and director Larry Holloway debuted a composition celebrating Nevada's birthday, "Silver and Sage," written by John O'Neill.

Another dedication was celebrated across Stewart Street from the Nevada State Library & Archives, where a grassy park was dedicated to Charles W. Friend, the state's first weatherman. Also named after Friend is the new trail to 26 sites of historical interest on Carson's east side.

Of course, traditional events also marked the day, from the beard contest and single-jack drilling contest to many parade entrants' umpteenth trip down Carson Street.

Inside the Carson City Nugget, Sen. Richard and Mrs. Bonnie Bryan continued a tradition started when he was known as Gov. Bryan, dishing it out as the Bryans' 17th annual free chili feed.

The third Bash and Benefit filled the afternoon and evening at the Ormsby House with music, food and fun. The event raised funds to help with the care of local youngsters Stephanie and Trevor Bond, who undergo surgery every six months after they were severely burned in a 1997 fire.

Marilyn Lewis, one of the many volunteers for the benefit, said about 1,000 attended the event and estimated $28,000 was raised to help the children.

"It was a great success," Lewis said. "So many people helped - it was a community-wide effort."

More Photos:

Dan Borges, a member of the Virginia City Gunslingers

State Controller Kathy Augustine in her pink Corvette

Spectators of parade in front of the State Museum

The Budwiser wagon driver Lloyd Ferguson waits with Gus, the Bud dog and Flash, a Clydesdale for the parade to start


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