Virginia City celebrates 100 years of labor with weekend event

Virginia City will resurrect a long-lost state celebration this weekend with traditional festivities and contests to help paint a picture of what it was like 100 years ago when Nevada celebrated its first official Labor Day.

Carpenters, miners, brewers and other workers representing unions from across Northern Nevada took to the streets in Reno in 1903 to march in the first parade.

A proclamation signed by then-Gov. John Sparks "respectfully requested" the people of Nevada observe the first Monday of September "in such a manner as will promote sentiments of harmony and good will between employer and employee, to the end that labor may be honored and receive its just reward, and that capital will be respected and enjoy prosperity under such conditions as will give comfort and happiness to those engaged in honest toil."

It was a time when labor unions enjoyed a heyday in Nevada before World War I, according to Guy Rocha, state archivist.

"I thought it would be fun to recreate, celebrate just like they did E just to bring it back and have the old fashioned fun," said organizer Julie McGuire.

Activities take place beginning Saturday. For children, high school students will hold a basketball shootout to raise money for a trip to Washington, D.C. A petting zoo will be open and the Red Dog Saloon will host a pool tournament for all ages during the weekend.

The Labor Day parade will start downtown at noon Monday.

Other events include a Comstock beard, moustache and goatee contest at the Union Brewery Monday and raffles to benefit the local families of firefighters who have lost loved ones in the past few months. Money will also be raised from a Kids Bounce house, donated by Bounce Mania, to help replace a Silver City fire truck that was burned this summer.

For adults, a softball tournament and old-fashioned single-jack drilling, mucking and nailing contests will take place during the weekend. On Sunday, the CStreet dance, free to the public, will start at 6 p.m. with a disc jockey providing entertainment.

"There's something for everyone to do," McGuire said.

When the day was first celebrated, Northern Nevada rotated locations for the yearly event. After Reno, Virginia City hosted its first Labor Day Sept. 5, 1904, and Carson City held it in 1905. Cities took turns until the celebrations ended in 1918 at the start of World War I.

Gov. Kenny Guinn is signing a 100-year proclamation for this year's recognition.

Holiday Closures

-- There will be no school Monday.

-- All federal, state and city offices will be closed Monday. Carson City Library will also be closed.

-- The Children's Museum of Northern Nevada will be closed Monday.

-- Marriage bureaus in Carson City and Douglas County will be open Monday. Carson bureau office hours will be 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

-- Carson City Landfill will be closed Monday.

-- Senior Centers in Carson City, Douglas County, Dayton, Storey County, Silver Springs, Fernley and Yerington will be closed Monday.

-- Carson City Aquatic Center will be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday. Carson Valley Swim Center will open from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. for adults, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the public and slides and toys will be open from noon to 5:30 p.m.

-- The Nevada Appeal office will be closed Monday. The newspaper will be delivered as usual.

-- No mail will be delivered Monday.

-- PRIDE Carson City service will not operate between Carson City and Reno. Call 348-RIDE for information.


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