Sun, fun and politicking at the Nevada Day parade

photo by Rick GunnSandra Sandhu of the Wooster Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. carries the flag Saturday afternoon.

photo by Rick GunnSandra Sandhu of the Wooster Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. carries the flag Saturday afternoon.

A warm and beautiful fall day drew thousands of parade goers to downtown Carson City on Saturday as Nevada celebrated its birthday.

It was a day of hugs and "long-time-no-see's" among the friendly crowd as neighbors and families watched displays of Native American dancers, basket weavers, and tribal representatives, which brought color and heritage to the annual event.

Police and fire officials, who expected more than 35,000 people to attend, estimated at least 25,000 people lined up to watch bands, dancers, motorcycles and horses of all colors stream through the capital.

Several state elected officials, including Gov. Kenny Guinn and Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign, came out to celebrate with their constituents as participants in the parade. Some shook hands as they walked around.

"We're proud of our 'Battle Born' history as the 36th state and take great pride in being the nation's fastest-growing state," said Guinn.

The constant buzzing overhead by a plane pulling an "Amodei for Senate" banner added political flavor to the event.

Political campaign supporters worked the crowds at the Nevada Day events by passing out fliers and signs.

The politicking didn't seem to bother families and parade lovers at the event, which featured plenty of law enforcement, school bands and horses galore.

"I like the horses and the music," said Kahlena Harris, 9.

Others liked the colorful costumes and ceremonial dances.

"I'm pretty impressed with the Native American theme," said first-time parade-goer Kent Hill, of Carson City. "Those are beautiful floats they put together."

The theme for this year's parade was "Nevada is Indian Territory -- Three Nations, One Territory." Phil Swain, a grand marshal representing the Moapa Band of Paiutes, said he was pleased 20 of the 25 Nevada tribes were represented during the day.

"It kind of gives the state and the people the opportunity to observe (tribal customs)," Swain said. "It's quite an honor to be recognized."

People also recognized the delicious varieties of Indian tacos and honey-smothered fry bread offered at booths as hundreds lined up to get a bite.

Third-generation Nevadan Eric Swanson of Carson City said he was disappointed that the day wasn't celebrated on its traditional day, Oct. 31, but he enjoyed coming out to see the "hodgepodge of old and new Nevada."

"Running into old friends, that's the best thing," Swanson said.

Swanson said he remembers crazy drunken riots of the 1960s and has watched the parade change into more of a family event.

The only "fighting" taking place at this year's parade happened on the grass in front of the Capitol as children chased each other with blow-up plastic Scooby Doo hammers.

"Everything went off smoothly and it was just a perfect day," said Virginia Nuzum, executive director of Nevada Day Inc. "The only problem is the Fallon Naval Air Station does a flyover at the parade and they had some kind of engine trouble. They never got there."


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