Patriotic parade draws 40,000

It was, perhaps, the most patriotic Nevada Day ever.

Barbara Merrill, of Carson City, said there were so many flags, after a while she couldn't stand up for them anymore.

"You would have to stand the whole parade," she said.

A subdued crowd celebrated the state's 137th birthday, watching float after float, band after band, traverse the 3-mile route down Carson Street with almost all participants flying the stars and stripes. And the spectators didn't slouch patriotism either; many flanked on Carson Street's sidewalks waved the flag and cheered as veterans, bands playing patriotic tunes and high school ROTC students passed by.

"There were a lot more tears of happiness and pride to see those veterans walk by," said Melodie Skuldarek, whose daughter, Selena, marched with the Eagle Valley Middle School Band.

"(The) patriotism means a little bit more because we have troops over in other countries," Michele Cowee, of Carson City, said, referring to the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Joe DiLonardo, Nevada Day parade coordinator, estimated the crowd at 40,000. Standing street-side with children, sitting in chairs, leaning against railings, people noted the annual parade was a tribute to community unity.

"This gives us a chance to celebrate what Carson City and Nevada are all about: freedom, this year especially," said Nancy Whitt, of Carson City.

For once, the weather mostly cooperated.

"It always seems like it's very nice up till the day before and then it's cold, sometimes with wind and sprinkles," said Glen Martin, a 35-year attendee of the parade.

Nevada Day revelers gathered along Carson Street in weather befitting Nevada: sunny one minute, cool and cloudy the next. But at least the temperatures didn't drop below freezing, and a Washoe Zephyr never kicked over the Sierra.

Mike Dunn, of Carson City, took a break in a business trip to Las Vegas to fly home for the parade.

"This shows that we're different; we're, what, one of three states that do this?" he said. "I'm proud to be a Nevadan."

The Nevada Day parade is one where a spectator is bound to see a friend riding or walking somewhere. It's one part of what makes Nevada such a unique place.

"I believe it's really important to support the state because it's a great place to live," said Bernadette Lassaline, of Carson City.


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