I love the Nevada Day Parade because it reminds me I don’t live in neighboring California with its horrible traffic, sky-high taxes and nanny government telling people how to live their lives — what to think, what to eat, what kind of vehicle to drive etc. etc. Some of those California values are starting to show up here in Nevada, but I hope we reject them at the polls on Nov. 6.
I’ve been attending Nevada Day parades since 1962, when I moved to Carson as the Associated Press (AP) capital correspondent. There were several memorable parades during the 1960s when I worked for the AP, Nevada’s gaming control agencies and TV Channel 4, the NBC affiliate in Reno, in that order. The 1964 Nevada Centennial Parade was special because the stars of the popular TV show “Bonanza” were the parade’s grand marshals. We saw “Pappy Cartwright” (Lorne Greene) up close and personal along with his sons “Hoss” (Dan Blocker, who appeared to be older than his TV father) and handsome “Little Joe” (Michael Landon). In those days Nevada stressed its proud, independent Old West heritage.
And then there was the 1966 Nevada Day Parade featuring the governor I worked for, Democrat Grant Sawyer, who was running for a third term against a young upstart Republican lieutenant governor from Carson City named Paul Laxalt. However, what I remember most is when my friends Bob Faiss, Chris Schaller and I ran down the parade route hollering our lungs out for Sawyer. Perhaps we didn’t holler loud enough, however, because Sawyer lost to Laxalt in a close race.
I saw many more Nevada Day parades through the years, because I returned to Nevada often and have seen many parades since I moved back to Carson in 1996. Our son was born here in 1966 and we always owned property and voted here to maintain legal residence in Nevada. That’s how our son paid in-state tuition at UNR. I’m still grateful to the late Gov. Mike O’Callaghan and City Clerk Vaughn Smith, both personal friends, for writing letters stating I was a well-known resident of Carson City. God bless ‘em.
In contrast to many California parades, the Nevada Day Parade is less flashy and less professional, but it’s also a funky, unpretentious hometown parade — our fellow Nevadans marching, walking and riding down Main Street while flags wave, bands play and politicians scavenge for last-minute votes. Grassroots democracy in action: I love it.
Sen. Dean Heller, doing his best Rex Bell (a former lieutenant governor/cowboy movie star) imitation, will ride his horse down Main Street this morning decked-out in his cowboy finery. Will his opponent, Jacky Rosen, be in the parade? Does she know where Carson City is? Down there in Lost Wages they don’t pay much attention to Nevada Day because they’re much closer to Hollywood and Southern California than they are to the rest of the Silver State.
Other Nevada Day events I enjoy are the traditional bipartisan chili feed at the Carson Nugget, the single-jack drilling competition honoring our state’s remaining hard-rock miners and the beard-growing contest. Some of those beards are quite spectacular. Who are those guys?
I always stop by the Old Globe Saloon for a beer or two and visit the Brewery Arts Center to see their fall exhibit by local artists. And if I can I try to have a Basque dinner at the J-T in Gardnerville and Sunday brunch at the Del Rio in Virginia City followed by a lively Comstock Cowboys country/western concert at the Bucket of Blood Saloon. Yee haw, and Happy Nevada Day!
Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, has been an adopted Nevadan since 1962.