This year’s Nevada Day Parade marshalls won’t have to direct the bands to circumvent the medians in the center core. They’re gone. However, that doesn’t make the duties of these volunteers any lighter.
With 200 parade entries, it’s not easy to make all seem so effortless. As spectators stand along the newly poured wider sidewalks or plant themselves on the convenient seat walls, few contemplate what goes on behind the scenes. Nor should they. If all goes well, that’s the sign of another successful parade.
Since 2010, Nevada Day Executive Director Ken Hamilton has been the executive director of this “really big show” produced every year since 1938 when the Nevada Day parade left Reno.
There have been many volunteer leaders who have spent countless long hours with their dedicated cadre of volunteers to organize a parade that has become a Carson City icon - one that would be sorely missed if it went away.
From reading past programs, Hamilton was able to ascertain that, in 1938, half of the about 10,000 residents pitched in to organize the parade attended by over 65,000. Of course, those were the days when community meant everything and involvement was assured. In contrast, today, he can count about 50-60 volunteers from parade announcers, ham radio operators, office staff, and board members to the parade marshalls that make up most of the volunteers.
Hamilton states, “It’s not an easy event to put on and costs us between $80,000-$90,000 annually.” The funding comes partially from city redevelopment funds, sponsorships and parade registrations. Even with 200 entrants, registrations bring in only a small amount., since so many non-profit entries and the bands are admitted free.
This year’s Grand Marshal is long-time volunteer Bernie Allen who has been involved in the parade so long, he can’t remember. Hamilton, too, has long been involved in the parade either by participating, volunteering or a spectator. He can’t remember a time he missed one in the 45 years he has lived here. Summing it up on behalf of most Nevada Day volunteers, Hamilton states, “It is an honor for me to be able to continue my involvement in putting on this historic event.”
As parade-goers sit back and enjoy the parade this year, themed “Nevada: Then & Now,” consider this parade took full a year to plan. There are so many details: portable toilets, permits, insurance, sound systems, programs, coordination of vendors and volunteers, and all the many things it takes to make a parade seem effortless.
This year, be sure to salute the many volunteers and, perhaps, consider volunteering in the future. Let’s all keep the Nevada Day tradition alive and let’s all enjoy the new downtown. Many will remember the then and, hopefully, enjoy the new now!