For the first time, Nevada's biggest celebration will officially begin on Oct. 26, five days before the state's Oct. 31st birthday. It seems like a break with tradition, but State Archivist Guy Rocha said over the years the celebration has been anything but traditional.
The Oct. 26 holiday is the earliest in the state's history thus far, though next year's Oct. 25 will be the earliest the holiday can be celebrated in accordance with the state law creating the three-day holiday.
Events celebrating Nevada's statehood began Saturday with a Carson City Symphony concert, will continue Wednesday with a fair and carnival in Mills Park, and will keep going through Oct. 28. The official holiday is Friday, Oct. 26, and the annual parade along Carson Street starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.
Carson City's Nevada Day dates to 1938. The celebration was called off in 1942, 1943 and 1944 due to the war effort and in 1948, Oct. 31 fell on a Sunday. Due to public pressure, officials decided the parade would be held on Monday, Nov. 1 that year, according to Rocha.
"Before the passage of Assembly Bill 396 by the 1997 state Legislature, the date was moved regularly to either the 30th or the 1st," he said.
Passage of that bill moved the holiday to the last Friday in October and went into effect last year. Virginia Nuzum, president of the Nevada Day Board, said Nevadans are taking the change in stride.
"We've had some people who wanted to know why the parade is being held this early, but we've had no real complaints," she said. "We had to change the date or lose the celebration, because there's not enough interest in a mid-week celebration to keep it going."
Rocha underscored that comment.
"The celebration receives no state support and it was running in the red when it was held on weekdays," he said. "It was also becoming primarily a Carson City celebration."
If the Elko High School Band wanted to participate midweek they would leave Elko around midnight, march in the parade, drive home that evening and go to school the next day, according to Rocha.
"No one from Eastern Nevada or south of Hawthorne was participating," Rocha said. "When it's a three-day event, anyone from those areas can come."
Nuzum said this year she had a few inquiries from Las Vegas, but they didn't call her before the deadline. The band traveling the farthest is coming from Ely's White Pine High School.
"They've been coming for some time," she said. "And they can come when the parade is on a weekend."