A thousand thrills on Nevada Day | NevadaAppeal.com

A thousand thrills on Nevada Day

Teri Vance
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Tens of thousands of people converged in Carson City on Saturday to celebrate Nevada’s admittance to the Union. In honor of the 16th president who admitted the state, Mayor Bob Crowell dressed as Abraham Lincoln.

“This year is the celebration of Abraham Lincoln who was president when Nevada was made a state,” he said.

But that’s not the only reason he donned coattails and stovepipe hat.

“It’s to show community spirit because Carson City rocks,” he said.

However, he missed the traditional Nevada Day Classic Fun Run.

“I was flipping pancakes at the Republican Women’s Pancake Breakfast,” he explained.

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The mayor might have been the only one to miss the run, though.

Organizer Tom Wion said the turnout was much higher than expected, probably due to the unusually mild weather.

“We had 275 shirts and we ran long out,” he said. “We probably crested 300 people, and donated about $5,000 to Special Olympics.”

Although it was larger than anticipated, he said he still wants the fun run to grow next year, becoming more of a “party atmosphere” with people dressed up in costumes.

“We want it to be bigger and better,” said the vice president of the Tahoe Mountain Milers

running club. “There’s no reason why we don’t have 500 plus at this event.”

Paula Heusser of Dayton, who won the 30-39 age division in the women’s two-mile, usually runs with her family in the race.

“We don’t put our kids in team sports because that separates families on the weekends,” she said. “We do things like this, something to work on together.”

Matthew Fowler, 9, has competed in the two-mile race for three years, getting better each time.

“I’ve just been practicing running at school and on the Wii Fit,” he explained.

Jeff Huxhold of Reno, who holds the course record, won the overall 8K. His time, and the results of the run, will be available early next week at tahoemountainmilers.org, Wion said. They will also be published Thursday on the Nevada Appeal’s recreation page.

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After the run, the day’s main events begin starting with the parade down Carson Street, followed by the International Beard Championships judged by Supreme Court justices on the steps of the Capitol and the World Championship Single-Jack Rock Drilling in the parking lot of the Nugget.

Mackena Bell, the 19-year-old NASCAR driver who was born and raised in Carson City, missed the last few Nevada Day celebrations because she had races. This year, she happened to be free.

“I wanted to be part of the festivities,” she said. “I like seeing all the people. It’s like a reunion.”

Although the parade route is lined with dogs of all shapes and sizes, Colleen Bush brought a different kind of pet.

Snuggled into her chest was her 15-year-old iguana, Mo, who goes most places with her.

“He’s free roaming in the house, I don’t put him in a cage,” she said. “He’s potty trained. He has his own room with his own bed and electric blanket. He’s a spoiled guy.”

It was Mo’s first time watching the Nevada Day parade.

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One of the highlights of the day is the free chili feed in the upstairs ballroom of the Carson Nugget. The tradition was started by Richard Bryan in 1982 during his successful run for governor. When he retired from the U.S. Senate 19 years later, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki took over the feed.

“I asked him if I was chili worthy,” Krolicki said.

Although an official count isn’t kept, he said there is always a steady stream of people loading up on bowls of chili.

“We literally feed thousands of people,” he said. “They come in and sit down for 15 minutes then go about their Nevada Day business. Then more people are here to replace them. Nevada Day is one of the great days in Nevada and the chili feed has always been a special part of it.”

So special, he said, his mother and step-father came down from Missouri this year to check it out.

“It’s wonderful,” said his mom, Gail Jacus. “I love the parade, the music, the bands, all of it. Just the total atmosphere is wonderful.”

And Erwin Jacus couldn’t help but brag on his stepson a bit.

“He’s a very good man,” he said. “We enjoy meeting his friends and colleagues.”

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At the foundation of all the celebrating, however, is the recognition of Nevada’s heritage.

Hannah Golik, 9, spent the week reviewing Nevada facts as a fourth-grader at Seeliger Elementary School.

“We learned about the Indians and we made a map of Nevada,” she said.

Her favorite thing about the state is its official bird: the mountain blue bird.

“One of my favorite colors is blue,” she explained.