Vets and supporters flock to Virginia City

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal William Swenson, 3, of Carson City, waits for the Veterans Day parade to begin in Virginia City on Friday.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal William Swenson, 3, of Carson City, waits for the Veterans Day parade to begin in Virginia City on Friday.

VIRGINIA CITY - After 14 years of showing tourists how to pan for gold at his main- street business, Vance Millett has seen more than his share of this desert town's parades.

Still, as he stood alongside hundreds of spectators Friday and watched the Veterans Day parade stroll down C Street, Millett found something noteworthy.

"That's the kind of helmet I wore when I was in," said the Army veteran, who served from 1960 to 1963. His comment came as a parade participant about 14 years old walked past, decked out in camouflage clothing with a steel pot teetering precariously on his head.

Millett said servicemembers today wear a Kevlar helmet made of material 20 times stronger than steel. Although safer, they're not nearly as functional as the steel pots of days gone by.

"You could boil water in it if you had to," he said.

The Comstock was hopping as 42 entrants, including many high school ROTC programs and various veteran organizations throughout Northern Nevada, marched the half-dozen blocks through Virginia City.

Wayne O'Malley, sergeant at arms for Carson City's High Desert Post 56 of the American Legion, spent Friday morning at the top of C Street getting his crew of 30 in order for their soiree through the city.

As the clock neared, then surpassed the 11 a.m. starting time causing a business owner to note the parade starts on "Comstock time," the impeccably dressed O'Malley was rushing to the end of the route. It was his job to gather up the items carried by his participants, and drive them back to the vehicles at the top of town.

A veteran of both the Army and Air Force, O'Malley, 71, said his group of legionnaires included veterans from both the Vietnam and Korean wars. The post's two World War II vets were not able to make Friday's event, he said.

Once this parade was finished, shortly before noon, High Desert Post 56 hurried back to Carson City to attend a 2 p.m. Veterans Memorial at Mills Park.

Mike Lloyd of Carson City and his friend Cory Woinarowicz decided to make the 12-mile drive from the capital to take in the morning's festivities.

Lloyd enjoyed the parade, though he was mostly there for the "people watching." Yet, he had one criticism.

"There was no marching band! Every parade has a marching band," he said. "The bagpipes were the best thing about this."

For Woinarowicz, who moved to Carson City from Fargo, N.D., about three months ago, this was his first Virginia City parade.

"I think this is good - a parade just for the people who are fighting for our country, and for those who have died," he said. "This is a good time to reflect, especially now with our armed forces overseas."

Midway on the parade route, Bru De Carteret stood on the boardwalk with his weiner-jack Capone - a daschund and Jack Russell mix. A Virginia City resident for the past nine years, De Carteret has also witnessed dozens of parades through the historic mining town turned tourist destination.

If you've seen one, you've seen them all, was his motto. He doesn't usually bother coming out on days like Friday. But, he couldn't pass up the fantastic weather.

"I'm here because of this beautiful day God provided me," he said.

- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.


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