I’ve watched many Nevada Day parades since I moved to Carson in 1962, but Saturday’s parade was special because I watched it with four of my favorite people: my beautiful daughter Maria, her husband Rich and my 12-year-old twin grandsons Duncan and Vincent. Maria, who lives in Seattle, understands home means Nevada to me because it was our stateside home when she was growing up overseas.
My late wife Consuelo and I always visited Carson when we were on home leave in the States; we owned property here and voted here, and I still have a few friends from the “olden days.” I treasure all of my Nevada friends, but the old-timers are special. As for the importance of family, my fellow seniors know family means everything in our “golden years.” I’ve been blessed with a loving family and loyal friends, and I’m eternally grateful to them for their love and support.
So what makes the Nevada Day Parade different from other parades? For starters, Nevada is one of the few states that celebrates its birthday so enthusiastically. Some California transplants might not understand Nevada’s frontier and maverick mystique, but those of us who’ve been around here for a while know and love our Nevada Day traditions.
The parade itself is different because it’s an authentic hometown production, not some slick high-tech creation by professional float-builders. Our parade participants build their own floats on limited budgets and proudly demonstrate their love of the Silver State and its traditional values of hard work and self-reliance. In other words, we don’t care how they do it in California; we do it our own way.
The Nevada Day parade hasn’t changed all that much since the 1960s — just the way I like it. We always have politicians on horseback, marching bands, muzzle-loaders and a few participants you won’t see anywhere else. In the early 1960s Lt. Gov. Rex Bell, a “B list” western movie star married to “It Girl” Clara Bow, was all decked out in his cowboy finery as he rode his horse down Carson Street. And these days we can always count on Sen. Dean Heller to do his best Rex Bell imitation. He does it well.
During our Centennial year, 1964, the stars of the popular “Bonanza” TV show were the grand marshals of the parade. Lorne Greene was Daddy Cartwright, but handsome “Little Joe” (Michael Landon) got most of the attention, especially from young women along the parade route. The governor I worked for, Grant Sawyer, welcomed the Bonanza stars to the state capital.
Continuing the western theme, I really admire the Virginia City folks in their authentic Old West outfits, ranging from sheriffs and cowpokes to Victorian ladies; those elegantly dressed ladies remind me of local legend Sade Grant, who high-kicked her way down main street well into her 80s.
And speaking of ladies the Moonlite Bunnyranch girls and the Girl Scouts usually participate in the Nevada Day Parade, but the organizing committee wisely separates them from each other. Only in Nevada.
I always enjoy seeing law enforcement officers and military units in the parade because they’re the people who keep us and our grandchildren safe. Everyone should show respect for cops and servicemen and women by standing when the American flag passes by. Are you listening, Kap?
Well, that’s what Nevada Day means to me and I’m pleased to have shared some pleasant memories with my loyal readers, many of whom are friends even when we don’t agree on politics. Happy Nevada Day!
Note: Tuesday, Nov. 8, is Election Day. I’ll see you at the polls.
Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, loves Carson City and Nevada Day.